Patterns of sedentary behavior in overweight and moderately obese users of the Catalan primary-health care system

PLoS One. 2018 Jan 25;13(1):e0190750. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0190750. eCollection 2018.


Background and objectives: Prolonged sitting time (ST) has negative consequences on health. Changing this behavior is paramount in overweight/obese individuals because they are more sedentary than those with normal weight. The aim of the study was to establish the pattern of sedentary behavior and its relationship to health, socio-demographics, occupation, and education level in Catalan overweight/obese individuals.

Methods: A descriptive study was performed at 25 healthcare centers in Catalonia (Spain) with 464 overweight/moderately obese patients, aged25 to 65 years. Exclusion criteria were chronic diseases which contraindicated physical activity and language barriers. Face-to-face interviews were conducted to collect data on age, gender, educational level, social class, and marital status. Main outcome was 'sitting time' (collected by the Marshall questionnaire); chronic diseases and anthropometric measurements were registered.

Results: 464 patients, 58.4% women, mean age 51.9 years (SD 10.1), 76.1% married, 60% manual workers, and 48.7% had finished secondary education. Daily sitting time was 6.2 hours on working days (374 minutes/day, SD: 190), and about 6 hours on non-working ones (357 minutes/day, SD: 170). 50% of participants were sedentary ≥6 hours. The most frequent sedentary activities were: working/academic activities around 2 hours (128 minutes, SD: 183), followed by watching television, computer use, and commuting. Men sat longer than women (64 minutes more on working days and 54 minutes on non-working days), and individuals with office jobs (91 minutes),those with higher levels of education (42 minutes), and younger subjects (25 to 35 years) spent more time sitting.

Conclusions: In our study performed in overweight/moderately obese patients the mean sitting time was around 6 hours which was mainly spent doing work/academic activities and watching television. Men, office workers, individuals with higher education, and younger subjects had longer sitting time. Our results may help design interventions targeted at these sedentary patients to decrease sitting time.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / physiopathology*
  • Overweight / physiopathology*
  • Primary Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Sedentary Behavior*
  • Spain

Grants and funding

The study was supported by research grants from Fondo de Investigación Sanitaria, Instituto de Salud Carlos III (PI11/01082) and VI Catedra of the European University of Madrid, Sociedad Española de Medicina Familiar y Comunitaria-semFYC and IDIAP Jordi Gol. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.