- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Call it suicide on the back side: Americans are sitting themselves to death, federal data show.

About 1-in-10 Americans sits for more than eight hours a day and engages in no physical activity, according to results from the 2015-2016 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

The “couch potato” combination of sitting and not moving is leading to increased occurrences of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity, say researchers from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC researchers spotlighted the national survey data in a report published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. A growing number of Americans are sitting more and doing less, they said.

Federal health officials last week updated guidelines on exercise and physical activity to just encourage Americans to move after finding that 80 percent failed to meet earlier guidelines of 10 minutes of physical activity per day.

Research published last year found that long, uninterrupted periods of sitting is associated with early death, even among people who exercise.

The CDC researchers examined the data to discern the prevalence of low physical activity and sedentary behavior in the U.S., which could help health care providers target interventions — whether to increase physical activity, lessen time sitting or both.

The data are based on survey answers from almost 6,000 adults about how much time they spend sitting per day, including at home, in transit, at work, at a computer, watching television or spending time with friends.

Respondents also were asked how much physical activity they completed per week and at what intensity.

Overall, the researchers found that more Americans are sitting for hours on end and are inactive.

About 14 percent said they sit for six hours a day and are inactive; the second largest responding group said they sit for more than eight hours a day and are inactive (11.4 percent).

The third largest group sat for between four and six hours per day and reported being inactive (11.2 percent).

About 2.6 percent of adults said they sit for less than four hours per day and are sufficiently active and 2.7 percent of adults said they sit less than four hours a day and perform enough physical activity.

“Both high sedentary behavior and physical inactivity have negative health effects, and evidence suggests that the risk of premature mortality is particularly elevated when they occur together,” the researchers wrote. ” … Practitioners can support efforts to implement programs, practices, and policies where adults live, learn, work, and play to help them sit less and spend more time being physically active.”

• Laura Kelly can be reached at lkelly@washingtontimes.com.

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