A Sedentary Office Job Raises Women’s Risk of Diabetes: Study
Diabetes is one of the fastest growing diseases in the western world, and in recent times in developing countries as well. Our sedentary lifestyles, sitting in front of the TV or computer for hours at a time and driving everywhere instead of walking are at least partly to blame. Weight gain and lack of exercise cause the condition known as insulin resistance, one of the early symptoms of type 2 diabetes. Diet is also implicated in increased risk of this disease. Most of us eat far too much fat, sugar, and refined carbohydrates and get much too little exercise.
British scientists at theUniversityofLeicesterstudied a group of 505 people aged 59 or over. They tested their blood glucose levels for symptoms of diabetes and asked the volunteers how many hours a day they spent sitting.
They found that although the women sat for slightly less time than the men – between four and seven hours, less than the four to eight hours the men reported – they were at increased risk of diabetes. The women who spent the most time sitting had higher levels of insulin in their blood, suggesting that they were developing insulin resistance. They also had larger levels of other chemicals associated with diabetes in their bloodstreams.
Strangely, the effect did not seem to happen to the men in the study, and the researchers suggested this might be because women are more apt to snack on sweets, cakes or other unhealthy treats while at work. Alternatively, it is possible the men took part in behaviors that are more active when they were not at work.
Type 2 diabetes was once known as “maturity onset” diabetes and was usually diagnosed in people who had reached old age. Today, with 26 million cases in the US and obesity levels on the rise, it is diagnosed in younger and younger people.
In Britain, where the study was carried out, 2.5 million people are living with type 2 diabetes, but this figure is set to rise to four million by 2025, with a rise to five million predicted by 2030.
The study comes on top of a report last year, which suggested working at a sedentary job for ten years, or more could almost double the likelihood of developing bowel cancer. With most adults now spending around 55% of their time at work seated, this is clearly a cause for concern.
The human body was meant for physical work, and many of our modern health problems can be laid at the door of our less active lifestyles. Heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and some cancers are linked to inactive lives, and inactivity certainly contributes to obesity. Diabetes itself can be improved and the symptoms alleviated if the patient takes the trouble to lose weight and to take regular exercise. This also reduces the chance of the disease’s serious complications of heart and kidney disease, nerve damage and blindness.