Get More Exercise, Walk or Bike to Work, and Watch Less TV
Changing modes of transportation and increased television watching have made lifestyles in Asia more and more sedentary. Being sedentary, or inactive, increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Urban commuters have started taking cars to work instead of bicycles, decreasing the amount of time spent walking or bike-riding. In each year of the last decade in India, there has been an 11 percent increase in the number of people who own cars.1 In China, men who owned cars between 1989 and 1997 gained 1.8 kg more weight and had twice the risk of becoming obese than those who did not purchase a car.2 Chinese National Health and Nutrition Surveys report that average weekly physical activity levels among Chinese adults dropped 32 percent over 15 years, mainly because of the shift to more sedentary forms of work, such as office work.2
Among various sedentary behaviors, watching television has been associated with the highest risk for type 2 diabetes.3 Every two extra hours spent watching TV was associated with a 14 percent increase in diabetes risk in the Nurses’ Health Study, whereas every extra hour a day of brisk walking was associated with a 34 percent reduction in risk.2 Watching TV not only decreases energy expenditure by causing prolonged periods of sitting, but is also associated with greater food and energy intake due to unhealthy eating patterns and increased consumption of processed snack foods. To help prevent diabetes, incorporate a daily exercise routine into your life, try walking or biking to work, and watch less television.
1 Chan JCN, Malik V, Jia W, et al. Diabetes in Asia: Epidemiology, Risk Factors, and Pathophysiology. JAMA. 2009;301(20):2129-2140.
2 Hu, FB. Globalization of diabetes: The role of diet, lifestyle, and genes. Diabetes Care. 2011;34(6):1249-1257.
3 Nang EE, Salim A, Wu Y, Tai ES, Lee J, Van Dam RM. Television screen time, but not computer use and reading time, is associated with cardio-metabolic biomarkers in a multiethnic Asian population: a cross-sectional study. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2013;10:70.