Evidence is mounting that men with desk jobs face a high risk of becoming obese if they don’t get up and move every now and then, according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Researchers examined the amount of time that 4,486 men and 1,845 women spent sitting down at work, school or at home. They also looked at obesity among the participants, whose ages ranged between 20 and 79, by measuring their waistlines and their body fat percentages. Regardless of the metric, the more men sat, the more likely they were to be obese.

“Men who sat more were more likely to be obese, and that held even when we adjusted for their fitness level,” said lead researcher Carolyn E. Barlow from the Cooper Institute in Dallas.

“The other risk factors that we looked at - cholesterol and glucose - were also not associated with sitting time. That was a bit surprising.”

Participants in the study were asked to report the frequency and duration of their participation in 11 different kinds of physical activity, including walking, running and cycling. Nearly half the men reported sitting three-fourths of the day, while only 13 percent of women reported the same. But even women who spent much of their days sitting down were less likely to be obese than men, the researchers reported.

The study authors said more research is needed to determine a root cause for the higher rates of obesity among sedentary men. 

“We definitely want to look at the changes in sitting time and how that associates with different risk factors among patients who come back to the clinic,” said Barlow.

Many previous studies have linked sedentary lifestyles to chronic illness and premature death.

One study in the Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice journal, for example, pointed to a connection between lengthy sitting and Type 2 diabetes. Another study from the University Health Network in Toronto found that people who sit too much are also at risk of heart disease, cancer and shorter life spans.

Barlow said that incorporating exercise into your day – along with limiting the amount of time spent sitting down – can lower your risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke. 

h/t The Washington Post.

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