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Hours spent sitting around linked to 50,000 UK deaths a year, find QUB and UU researchers

Researchers at Queen's University, Belfast and Ulster University have assessed the financial impact of sedentary behaviour on the NHS for the first time, published today in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health
Researchers at Queen's University, Belfast and Ulster University have assessed the financial impact of sedentary behaviour on the NHS for the first time, published today in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health
Lauren Harte

By Lauren Harte

Spending large amounts of time sitting or lounging around during the day is linked to around 50,000 deaths per year in the UK, new research has found.

Researchers at Queen's University, Belfast and Ulster University have assessed the financial impact of sedentary behaviour on the NHS for the first time, published today in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.

Data shows that treating the health consequences of a sedentary lifestyle costs the NHS more than £700m per year.

Figures on the impact sedentary behaviour has on the relative risks of five specific health conditions and deaths from all causes were combined with figures on the percentage of adults who are sedentary on any given day of the week to estimate the overall impact on the UK population.

The five health conditions are type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, colon cancer, endometrial cancer and lung cancer.

Figures on sedentary behaviour were taken from the Health Survey for England 2012, which reported that 30% of adults in England spent at least six hours per day sedentary on weekdays.

This rose to 37% of adults on weekends.

Overall NHS spending on each of the five conditions was used to estimate the financial impact sedentary behaviour had on the NHS for each of the conditions in the UK in 2016-17.

For all five conditions combined, this amounted to £800m.

Overall, the results suggest that 48,024 UK deaths might have been avoided in 2016 if sedentary behaviour was eliminated.

Lead investigator Leonie Heron from the Centre of Public Health at Queen's University, said: "We know that spending large parts of the day sitting down increases the risk of a number of illnesses including cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

"Measures should be taken to reduce sedentary behaviour, with the aim of improving population health and reducing the financial burden to the health service."

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