Aims/hypothesis: We analysed a sample of Australian adults to determine the strength of associations of TV viewing and participation in physical activity with the metabolic syndrome.
Methods: This population-based cross-sectional study included 6,241 adults aged > or =35 years who were free from diagnosed diabetes mellitus and self-reported ischaemic disease and were not taking lipid-lowering or antihypertensive drugs. The metabolic syndrome was defined according to the 1999 World Health Organization criteria. Participants self-reported TV viewing time and physical activity time for the previous week.
Results: The adjusted odds ratio of having the metabolic syndrome was 2.07 (95% CI 1.49-2.88) in women and 1.48 (95% CI 0.95-2.31) in men who watched TV for >14 h per week compared with those who watched < or =7.0 h per week. Compared with those who were less active (<2.5 h per week), the odds ratio for the metabolic syndrome was 0.72 (95% CI 0.58-0.90) in men and 0.53 (95% CI 0.38-0.74) in women who were active (> or =2.5 h per week). Longer TV viewing (>14 h per week) was associated with an increased risk of insulin resistance, obesity and dyslipidaemia in both men and women. A total physical activity time of > or =2.5 h per week was associated with a reduced prevalence of both insulin resistance and dyslipidaemia in both sexes and reduced prevalence of both obesity and hypertension in women.
Conclusions/interpretation: Increased TV viewing time was associated with an increased prevalence of the metabolic syndrome, while physical activity was associated with a reduced prevalence. Population strategies addressing the metabolic syndrome should focus on reducing sedentary behaviours such as TV viewing, as well as increasing physical activity.