‘Our chairs are slowly killing us’: sitting down too much raises the risk of liver disease

Prolonged periods of sitting increases the prevalence of NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease), according to research published in the Journal of Hepatology.

The researchers say their findings highlight the importance of physical activity, and the detrimental effects of a sedentary lifestyle.

Test subjects were checked for levels of liver fat, and this data was cross compared with a questionnaire about the amount of physical activities they do.

The researchers found that subjects who spent the most time sitting down were more likely to have NAFLD. They also found that the association exists in people with a healthy BMI (body mass index).

The study’s lead investigator, Seungho Ryu, says the results were consistent among a large sample of middle-aged test subjects.

‘Our findings suggest that both increasing participation in physical activity and reducing sitting time may be independently important in reducing the risk of NAFLD, and underlines the importance of reducing time spent sitting in addition to promoting physical activity.’

Michael Trenell, a British expert in the field of lifestyle medicine, says the data supports existing evidence that too much sitting and too little moving has ‘significant negative consequences for cardio-metabolic health’.

‘The message is clear — our chairs are slowly but surely killing us. Our body is designed to move and it is not surprising that sedentary behaviour, characterised by low muscle activity, has a direct impact on physiology. With a dearth of approved drug therapies for NAFLD, lifestyle changes remain the cornerstone of clinical care.’