People who spend less time sitting have a lower risk of developing diabetes, according to a recent analysis of the Diabetes Prevention Program. Reducing television watching appeared beneficial and should be emphasized.

Previous results from the program showed that increasing physical activity to at least 150 minutes per week at moderate intensity helped prevent or delay the development of diabetes in overweight men and women. Since then, new research has shown that exercise level is not the only important factor. Sedentary behavior itself, such as sitting in front of the TV or at work, may be an independent risk factor for both metabolic syndrome and diabetes.

For this analysis, researchers led by Andrea M. Kriska, PhD, of the Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group specifically examined sedentary time for the 3,232 participants, who were randomly assigned to 3 groups: a group engaging in increased lifestyle activity, a group taking metformin, and a placebo group.

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Across all groups, the more time spent watching TV, the higher the chances of diabetes: 3.4% per hour of TV—even after controlling for other factors, according to results published in Diabetologia.

After 3 years of follow-up, sitting time declined more in the active group. The decrease in time watching television was 22 minutes per day, on average, and was greater than that achieved by the other 2 groups.

“This effort suggests that modest improvements in domain-specific sedentary time, such as TV watching, may lead to reduced diabetes incidence in individuals at high risk of developing the disease,” the researchers stated.


  1. Rockette-Wagner, B, et al. Diabetologia, March 2015; doi: 10.1007/s00125-015-3565-0.