Staying or lying down for long periods of the day is not only bad for health, it could also be the cause of nearly 70,000 deaths and cost at least £ 700 million to the NHS a year, revealed new research.
Scientists have previously reported that sedentary behavior increases the risk of contracting several diseases as well as premature death.
Experts have looked at the financial burden of sedentary behavior in the UK, revealing that sitting or lying for at least six hours a day resulted in £ 424 million in cardiovascular disease expenses, £ 281 million in diabetes type £ 2 million and £ 30 million in colon cancer. only.
"We do not have clear guidelines [on sedentary behaviour] but any increase in activity is beneficial to your health, "said Leonie Heron, first author of the Queen's University study in Belfast.
The team adds that it is not only public money that could benefit from more movement: they predict that more than 69,000 deaths in the UK in 2016 – or 11.6% of all deaths – could have to be avoided if people did not sit for long. .
Heron and colleagues at Queen's University in Belfast and Ulster describe how they calculated their calculations by estimating the amounts spent by the NHS for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and endometrial, colon and stroke. lungs. cancers during the 2016-2017 fiscal year in the UK.
They then combined this data with estimates, based on previous studies, of the extent to which at least six hours of sedentary behavior per day increased the risk of such diseases, as well as estimates of the proportion of people who developed diseases. reported prolonged periods of sedentary behavior.
The team also drew on data from a large survey conducted in England in 2012, which revealed that 30% of adults spent at least six sedentary hours each day of the week, which represented 37% of adults on weekends. .
After collecting the numbers and taking into account factors such as smoking, BMI and exercise level, the team found that if sedentary behavior was eliminated in the UK, 9% of colon cancer cases , 8% of endometrial cancers. 7.5% of lung cancers could be prevented, as well as 17% of cases of type 2 diabetes and about 5% of cases of cardiovascular disease.
Overall, the NHS has spent more than £ 760 million a year to fight the five diseases resulting from sedentary behavior – about 1.2% of its total budget. This dropped to around 700 million pounds after the team had taken into account the fact that some people had more than one of the diseases considered.
But the team says it's probably an underestimate. Estimated expenditures for 2016-17 – which were based in part on older data projections – would be below actual spending this year, while sedentary behavior is likely to play a role in other diseases.
"I would say it's a conservative estimate because we do not yet fully know the impact of sedentary behavior," said Heron. She added that even if people are not able to engage in moderate or vigorous physical activity, increased light activity, such as physical activity, may have benefits.
The study does not prove cause-and-effect – and the sickest people could be more sedentary. In addition, not all data used in lung cancer calculations were from European populations, and sedentary behavior risk estimates were obtained from different studies using different methods.
Nevertheless, the team says the new research provides reasonable estimates of the cost of non-displacement and calls for public health interventions to reduce sedentary behavior and provide clear direction to the public.
Dr. Keith Diaz, an expert in behavioral medicine at Columbia University and not having participated in the study, said that the few efforts made by policymakers to go ahead with the study, "said Dr. Keith Diaz, an expert in behavioral medicine at Columbia University. attacking sedentary behavior could be explained by the fact that this could reduce labor productivity.
"Thus, the findings of this study are extremely important as they provide a strong economic argument for a change in public health policies aimed at reducing sedentary behaviors in the workplace," he said. .
But, he adds, it's not enough to get up: "Until we learn more about the benefits or risks of standing up, the best advice I can give to those who are concerned by their habits of sitting is to sit less, move more and move. often."
Others have noted that it would probably be more effective to encourage people to be more physically active and that it was not yet clear how long individuals would have lived longer. long time they had spent less time sitting.
"The price-quality ratio for reducing sitting time is rather minimal in terms of health benefits – you really need to reduce sitting time by several hours each day to see noticeable improvements." of health, "said Dr. Gavin Sandercock of the University of Essex. . "On the other hand, getting people to be more physically active has far greater effects."