Background: In recent years there has been a growing interest in the relationship between sedentary behaviour (sitting) and health outcomes. Only recently have there been studies assessing the association between time spent in sedentary behaviour and the metabolic syndrome. The aim of this study is to quantify the association between sedentary behaviour and the metabolic syndrome in adults using meta-analysis.
Methodology/principal findings: Medline, Embase and the Cochrane Library were searched using medical subject headings and key words related to sedentary behaviours and the metabolic syndrome. Reference lists of relevant articles and personal databases were hand searched. Inclusion criteria were: (1) cross sectional or prospective design; (2) include adults ≥ 18 years of age; (3) self-reported or objectively measured sedentary time; and (4) an outcome measure of metabolic syndrome. Odds Ratio (OR) and 95% confidence intervals for metabolic syndrome comparing the highest level of sedentary behaviour to the lowest were extracted for each study. Data were pooled using random effects models to take into account heterogeneity between studies. Ten cross-sectional studies (n = 21393 participants), one high, four moderate and five poor quality, were identified. Greater time spent sedentary increased the odds of metabolic syndrome by 73% (OR 1.73, 95% CI 1.55-1.94, p<0.0001). There were no differences for subgroups of sex, sedentary behaviour measure, metabolic syndrome definition, study quality or country income. There was no evidence of statistical heterogeneity (I(2) = 0.0%, p = 0.61) or publication bias (Eggers test t = 1.05, p = 0.32).
Conclusions: People who spend higher amounts of time in sedentary behaviours have greater odds of having metabolic syndrome. Reducing sedentary behaviours is potentially important for the prevention of metabolic syndrome.