Excessive Sitting May Increase Diabetes Risk in Women

If you are a woman and you want to reduce your risks of developing diabetes, you need to stop sitting so much.  That was the conclusion drawn by researchers from the University of Leicester Departments of Health Sciences and Cardiovascular Sciences.   Their study showed that women who sit for long periods of time each day are at significantly higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.  The same risk does not seem to apply to men.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when cells in the body become resistant to insulin.  Insulin is a hormone which acts as a key.  When insulin is present, cells are able to open up and receive glucose or sugar from the blood, which they use as a source of energy.  But when cells become resistant to insulin, they ignore the insulin that is present which means they do not take in the glucose they need.

Sugar that remains in the blood triggers the pancreas to produce more insulin to coax the cells into opening.  Insulin resistance is recognized as a precursor to developing type 2 diabetes.  When the pancreas is no longer able to produce enough insulin to get the cells to open, blood sugar levels continue to climb and type 2 diabetes develops.

The recent study polled over 500 men and women over the age of 40 to find out how much time they spend sitting each week.  The test subjects also provided blood samples that were tested to check for indicators of diabetes and metabolic dysfunction.   The study showed that women who spent the longest time sitting also had higher levels of insulin in their blood, along with other chemicals that were signs of inflammation.

The researchers were not able to determine why women were more affected by sitting than men, but suggested that women might snack more while sitting. They also suggested that men were more active when they were up and moving than women, which may offset the effects of sitting to some degree.

The researchers say their study shows that more time sitting equates to a higher risk of insulin resistance and low-grade inflammation in women, but not in men.  Study leader Dr. Thomas Yates said, “This effect is seen regardless of how much exercise is undertaken. This suggests that women who meet the national recommendations of 30 minutes of exercise a day may still be compromising their health if they are seated for the rest of the day.”

The researchers are hoping further study will show the impact of reducing the amount of time spent sitting.   Yates said, “If these results are replicated, they have implications for lifestyle recommendations, public health policy, and health behavior change interventions, as they suggest that enabling women to spend less time sitting is an important factor in preventing chronic disease."

Denise DeWitt is a freelance writer for EmpowHER.com.

Related Links:

Dining Out Tips for Diabetics
Could You Be Prediabetic?
What are the Differences Between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes?



Science Daily. Diabetes Risk from Sitting Around. Web. March 26, 2012.


American Diabetes Association. Diabetes Basics: Type 2. Web. March 26, 2012.


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