Navigate Up

UPMC/University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
For Journalists
Allison Hydzik
Senior Manager
Telephone: 412-647-9975
Telephone: 412-586-9776

Want to Make an Appointment or Need Patient Information?

Contact UPMC at
1-800-533-UPMC (8762).

Go to Find a Doctor to search for a UPMC doctor.​

Each Hour Watching Television Increases Diabetes Risk, Pitt Public Health Finds

PITTSBURGH, April 1, 2015 – A well-known lifestyle intervention already proven to increase physical activity levels and decrease weight has now been shown to successfully reduce participants’ time spent sitting and watching television, a University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health analysis discovered.
The research, published today by the European Association for the Study of Diabetes journal Diabetologia, also found that for each hour spent watching television daily, the risk of developing diabetes increases by 3.4 percent after controlling for other important risk factors. 
“Less time spent watching TV per day over a three-year follow-up translated into a lower risk of developing diabetes, even after controlling for how much physical activity people were reporting,” said lead author Bonny Rockette-Wagner, Ph.D., director of physical activity assessment at Pitt Public Health.
This association was reduced to a 2.1 percent increased risk of developing diabetes per hour of watching TV, which was not statistically significant, when body weight was added to the model. This suggests that subsequent changes in body weight may account for some of the relationship between sitting behavior changes and diabetes development.
This investigation by Dr. Rockette-Wagner and her colleagues was part of the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), a clinical research trial funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The DPP had previously demonstrated in sites across the U.S. that people at risk for diabetes who lost weight and increased their physical activity levels sharply reduced their risk for diabetes and heart disease, outperforming people who took a diabetes drug when compared to placebo. The two lifestyle goals of the DPP were to achieve 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity activity, such as brisk walking, and a 7 percent weight loss. The main study results were published in 2002.
Dr. Rockette-Wagner, senior author Andrea Kriska, Ph.D., of Pitt Public Health, and their colleagues recently analyzed data from the DPP to determine whether the lifestyle intervention also reduced time spent sitting. Prior to the trial, watching television and sitting at work, combined, averaged nearly seven hours per day. People who participated in the lifestyle intervention arm of the trial reported reducing their combined television and work sitting time by 37 minutes per day, compared to a six-minute reduction in people taking the diabetes drug and a nine-minute reduction in people taking a placebo.
“This is not always the case, as interventions that succeed in increasing moderate intensity activity do not always result in positive changes in sitting,” said Dr. Rockette-Wagner.
“Because a decrease in sitting occurred despite the absence of program goals aimed at reducing sedentary behavior, it is likely that a lifestyle intervention program that incorporates such a goal would result in greater changes in sitting and greater health improvements than we found in this study,” said Dr. Kriska, professor in Pitt Public Health’s Department of Epidemiology. “Future intervention efforts that focus on increasing physical activity and reducing weight also should consider emphasizing sitting less.”
As a next step in the effort to determine the impact of decreasing sedentary behavior, Dr. Kriska and her colleagues at Pitt Public Health recently received a $3 million grant from the NIH to test the efficacy of a community-based lifestyle intervention program that focusses on encouraging sedentary, overweight adults to sit less.
Additional authors on this research are Elizabeth M. Venditti, Ph.D., of Pitt; Sharon Edelstein, Sc.M., and Deepti Reddy, M.S., both of George Washington University; George Bray, M.D., of Pennington Biomedical Research Center; Mary Lou Carrion-Petersen, R.N., of University of California, San Diego; Dana Dabelea, M.D., Ph.D., of University of Colorado; Linda M. Delahanty, M.S., R.D., of Massachusetts General Hospital; Hermes Florez, M.D., of University of Miami; Paul W. Franks, Ph.D., of Lund University in Sweden; Maria G. Montez, R.N., M.S.H.P., of University of Texas Health Sciences Center; and Richard Rubin, Ph.D., of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
This research was funded by the NIH National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases grant U01 DK048489.

UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences Supplemental content provided by Healthwise, Incorporated. To learn more, visit

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

Pittsburgh, PA, USA |