The Link Between Obesity and Sitting Down Too Long

The Link Between Obesity and Sitting Down Too Long

Title: Sitting as unhealthy as smoking, health nonprofit says
Owner: CBS This MorningFact: Sitting down for long periods of time shortens your life span.

Startling isn’t it? After my Basel Fasnacht “Standing” experience, good that I went there! Various studies prove it’s true. Jobs or hobbies that require you to sit for extended periods of time also significantly increase your risk of:

  • Cancer
  • Heart Disease
  • Diabetes 2
  • Metabolic Syndrome
  • And yes, obesity


For the purpose of this article we are going to look at just obesity. One obvious reason sitting increases your waistline is over time you are burning fewer calories, but probably are not consuming fewer; as a matter-of-fact, you are probably consuming more calories – especially if you’re sitting time is watching TV. There is something about watching TV and eating (and most likely unhealthy foods) that seem to go together, particularly promoted by the advertisement running on TV, suggesting you should be snacking to be a happy viewer.

But one little known fact as to why you are putting on weight is that sitting makes the fat cells in your buttocks increase in size; more so than the fat cells in other parts of your body. It is as if your body is trying to create a cushion between you and what you are sitting on. Those cushions are filled with white adipose tissue, the “white fat,” which pushes out leptin, a hormone that should regulate your hunger, however due to you higher sugar loaded calorie intake, starts to overshoot, with a result of leptin resistance – in essence causing you not to know when to turn off the hunger…

And being obese also raises your risk of cancer. So is there a tie-in between and increased risk of certain cancers and being obese from sitting? Researchers don’t know for sure, but what they do know is obesity increases the risk of colon cancer, which is also one of the cancers increased by extended sitting.

However, obesity also increases the risk of other cancers not affected by prolonged sitting, such as esophagus, kidney, breast and pancreas. More research is needed to establish a definite link between obesity and colon cancer, but it does look suspicious at this point.

So what can you do to lessen your risk of becoming obese from sitting? In a nutshell, watch what you eat and sit less!

Watch what you eat

More specifically, watch the number and particularly the kind of calories you consume. Carbohydrates and are definitely suspect – as they increase your insulin levels, with the risk of insulin resistance, and eventually diabetes II. The famous “mars bar” and 50% sugar equivalents give you a sugar high, and a predictable sugar dip, and another bout of hunger shortly after. Most fruits are suspect because of their high fructose content (fructose is used to create diabetic rats and mice!) Think about how you can change your calorie intake to more fat, and some protein.

Watch what you drink.

Sodas and coffees, like lattes and cappuccinos and moccas, are loaded with sugar, with the problems described above. And diet sodas are not good for you either, since your body thinks it is sugar anyway. Stick to drinking water when you can and supplement it with a couple cups of black coffee or ice tea (both with no sugar). To stop you from being hungry – try the BulletProof coffee!

Stand more and sit less.

Some good choices to get in more time moving include:

  • If you have a choice in furnishing your office, choose a standing desk or one with a walking treadmill.
  • When talking on the phone, stand or walk (to the extent the cord will let you) throughout the conversation.
  • After eating lunch, go for a 15-minute walk outside.
  • Hand deliver a message to a colleague instead of emailing it.

While you can’t totally eliminate sitting while doing your job immediately right now (nor do you have to), there are many ways to cut down the amount of time you spend sitting and spend more time moving. Couple that with an awareness of what you are eating, and you can stave off the dreaded weight gain that eventually leads to obesity and associated health issues that comes with it.


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About the Author

I seek the difference that makes the difference for challenges in life. For me, that means learning, getting out of the comfort zone, often rocking the boat with sacred cows. Pharmacist with IT business degree and certified coach, trainer, hypnotherapist. Dutch born Swiss Citizen.

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