Sedentary behavior, physical activity, and the metabolic syndrome among U.S. adults

Obes Res. 2005 Mar;13(3):608-14. doi: 10.1038/oby.2005.65.


Objective: We examined the associations among physical activity, sedentary behavior, and metabolic syndrome in a representative sample of U.S. adults.

Research methods and procedures: A total of 1626 men and women > or =20 years old from National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999 to 2000 who attended the morning examination were evaluated. The metabolic syndrome was defined by using the definition from the National Cholesterol Education Program.

Results: In unadjusted analysis, participants who did not engage in any moderate or vigorous physical activity during leisure time had almost twice the odds of having metabolic syndrome [odds ratio (OR), 1.90; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.22 to 2.97] as those who reportedly engaged in > or =150 min/wk of such activity. Adjustment for age, sex, race or ethnicity, educational status, smoking status, and alcohol use attenuated the OR (OR, 1.46; 95% CI, 0.87 to 2.45). Compared with participants who watched television or videos or used a computer <1 h/d outside of work, the adjusted ORs for having metabolic syndrome were 1.41 (95% CI 0.80 to 2.51) for 1 h/d, 1.37 (95% CI 0.85 to 2.20) for 2 h/d, 1.70 (95% CI 0.92 to 3.14) for 3 h/d, and 2.10 (95% CI 1.27 to 3.47) for > or =4 h/d. Additional adjustment for physical activity or sedentary behavior minimally affected the ORs.

Discussion: Sedentary behavior is an important potential determinant of the prevalence of the syndrome. Efforts to lessen the amount of time that U.S. adults spend watching television or videos or using a computer, especially if coupled to increases in physical activity, could result in substantial decreases in the prevalence of metabolic syndrome.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Behavior
  • Educational Status
  • Ethnicity
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Odds Ratio
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking
  • Television
  • United States / epidemiology