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Total sitting time and the risk of incident diabetes in Danish adults (the DANHES cohort) over 5 years: a prospective study
  1. Christina B Petersen1,
  2. Adrian Bauman2,
  3. Janne S Tolstrup1
  1. 1National Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Copenhagen, Denmark
  2. 2School of Public Health, Sydney University, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Janne S Tolstrup, National Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Address: Øster Farimagsgade 5A, 2. floor, Copenhagen 1353, Denmark; jst{at}


Aims To test the hypothesis that total sitting time is associated with incident diabetes, after adjustment for physical activity and obesity.

Methods 72 608 Danish adults from the DANHES cohort reported their total sitting time in 2007–2008 and were followed-up for 5 years, in relation to register-based incident diabetes mellitus. Cox regression analyses were used, and the effect-modifying influence of obesity and physical activity assessed.

Results The age-sex adjusted HR for developing diabetes among those who sat 10+ h/day as compared to <6 h/day was 1.35 (95% CI 1.17 to 1.57). The relative risks were similar by gender, but were largely attenuated by adjustment for potential confounding factors including physical activity, and statistically non-significant for all categories of body mass index except the obese.

Conclusions The association between total sitting time and incident diabetes is substantially moderated by physical activity and obesity. Total sitting time remains a risk factor for diabetes only in inactive and obese populations.

  • Diabetes
  • Epidemiology
  • Physical activity
  • Sitting time

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  • Contributors AB and JST designed the analytical strategy and wrote the article. CBP and JST performed the analyses and wrote the paper. AB assisted in the implications. All authors certify to have participated sufficiently in the work to take public responsibility for the appropriateness of the design, method, collection, analysis and interpretation of the data. Additionally, all authors have read and approved the final version and have agreed to share data used in the study.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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