To offset sitting harms such as weight gain and impaired glucose tolerance, patients need to do more than stand at work, a new prospective study suggests.

Jean-Philippe Chaput, PhD, of Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group, Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, and colleagues followed 293 men and women of French ancestry from the Quebec Family Study for 6 years. They asked what proportion of the workday participants spent standing. At the start of the study, a third reported standing rarely, 23% half of the day, 19% most of the time, and 25% the entire workday.

Over the study period, 17.4% of participants newly developed a body mass index in the overweight or obese range (25 kg/m2 and greater) and 12.6% developed impaired glucose tolerance or type 2 diabetes (2-hr post-load plasma glucose 7.8 mmol/L or greater).

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Standing on the job was associated with lower rates of weight gain and disease, according to results published online in BMC Public Health, but the link was no longer significant after adjustment for daily calories, age, sex, smoking habits, income, and physical work capacity.

Previous studies have provided “compelling” evidence that a sedentary lifestyle can harm health. Interrupting sitting time to stand up and move can benefit cardiometabolic health, according to other research, but the magnitude of these effects is unknown.

It’s biologically plausible that standing produces health benefits, the researchers remarked. “Standing may have a measurable impact on important metabolic processes, especially those related to glycemic control and lipoprotein metabolism.”

This small study considered only workplace standing time. Measuring total daily standing time in a larger pool of participants might yield different results, according to the investigators.


  1. Chaput, J, et al. BMC Public Health (2015) 15:111; doi: 10.1186/s12889-015-1353-x.