Increased sedentary activity across all age groups in the United States

1. In this cross-sectional study, the prevalence of sitting watching television or videos for at least 2 hours per day remained stable over a 15-year period.

2. Computer use during leisure-time increased among all age groups, and total sitting time increased among adolescents and adults.

Evidence Rating Level: 3 (Average)       

Study Rundown: Increased sedentary behavior is associated with increased risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes. Patterns of sedentary behavior vary substantially by age and remain poorly described in the US population. In this cross-sectional study, the estimated prevalence of sitting watching television or videos for at least 2 hours per day remained high and stable over a 15-year period. However, computer use during leisure-time increased among all age groups, and total sitting time increased among adolescents and adults.

Overall, this study suggests that sedentary activity has increased among most age groups in the US. The study is limited by possible recall bias in self-reporting sedentary behaviors and inability to capture sedentary time using devices such as phones and tablets. Future directions include understanding the shift in sedentary behaviors and their contributions to disease risk.

Click to read the study in JAMA

Relevant Reading: Sedentary Time and Its Association With Risk for Disease Incidence, Mortality, and Hospitalization in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

In-Depth [cross-sectional study]: In this serial, cross-sectional analysis of nationally representative data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 51,896 participants were examined from 2001 to 2016. Age groups included were children 5 through 11 years, adolescents 12 through 19 years, and adults 20 years or older. Screen-based sedentary behaviors were assessed using 2 consistent questions for children. Total sitting time was assessed among adolescents and adults using a single question. Sociodemographic and lifestyle characteristics were also collected. Estimated prevalence of sitting watching television or videos for at least 2 hours/day was high and ranged from 59% to 65% in 2015-2016. The estimated prevalence of computer use outside school or work for at least 1 hour/day increased from 2001 to 2016 (43% to 56% for children, p < 0.001; 53% to 57% for adolescents, p = 0.002; and from 29% to 50% for adults, p < 0.001). Further, the estimated total sitting time increased from 2007 to 2016 (7.0 to 8.2 hours/day among adolescents, p < 0.001; and from 5.5 to 6.4 hours/day among adults, p < 0.001).

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