Skip to navigation Skip to main content Skip to footer

Approved research

The healthcare utilisation and costs associated with prolonged sedentary behaviour and inactivity in UK adults

Principal Investigator: Miss Leonie Heron
Approved Research ID: 52856
Approval date: November 20th 2019

Lay summary

Prolonged sedentary behaviour is sitting or lying down for extended periods of time during waking hours. This is often thought of as sitting for more than six hours per day. Prolonged sedentary behaviour has been associated with increases the risk of several chronic diseases: cardiovascular disease; type 2 diabetes; and endometrial, lung, and colon cancer. Many UK adults sit for long periods of time during the day as sedentary office jobs and leisure activities have become commonplace. The UK guidelines recommend that individuals should limit the amount of time they spend sitting, without specifying exactly how many hours might be too many. There is a need for greater awareness of the health implications of prolonged sedentary behaviour. In order to fully understand the impact of this risk factor, it is important to estimate the financial cost of prolonged sedentary behaviour in the UK. Cost estimates already exist for other risk factors such as physical inactivity, obesity, poor diet, and smoking. Decision makers should also be aware of the financial cost of sedentary behaviour in order to prioritise funding and resources for preventative healthcare. The information should also be made publicly available to raise awareness of the health risks of sedentary lifestyles. One recent study has estimated the annual cost of prolonged sedentary behaviour to the National Health Service in the UK using a prevalence based approach. No previous studies have used more accurate econometric methods to estimate healthcare costs associated with prolonged sedentary behaviour. The duration of the project will be no longer than twelve months. The project corresponds to the aim of the UK Biobank to improve the prevention of serious and life-threatening illness. Research into the health economics of sedentary behaviour will inform policy on disease prevention. This project may highlight which individuals are more susceptible to health problems linked to sedentary behaviour. With this knowledge, public health programs could target specific groups who are likely to benefit more.