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Here’s One Simple Habit that May Decrease the Likelihood You Will Become Obese

Tim Boyer's picture
Stand more, weight less study shows

One way of fighting obesity is by not becoming obese in the first place. Before it’s too late for you, here is one simple habit that researchers found could significantly decrease the likelihood that you will become obese.


According to a new study led by the American Cancer Society that was recently published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings, researchers discovered that the amount of time spent standing each day can help prevent a person from becoming obese.

It’s been recommended quite often for the past several years—the benefits of standing while at work can offset the negative health consequences of sitting in chair at a desk job. In fact, some health experts posit that the pressure on the buttocks from sitting for long periods of time causes inflammation that leads to increased fat deposits in the lower half of the body.

To determine what the relationship—if any—is between the time spent standing and obesity, researchers took a look at medical data from 7,075 adult patients (aged 20-79 years) attending the Cooper Clinic in Dallas, Texas for preventive medicine treatment from 2010 to 2015.

The researchers used the data to assess the associations between a patient’s reported standing time with his or her physiologic factors such as body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, percentage of body fat and whether the patient has metabolic syndrome.

After crunching the numbers through statistical analysis, what the data showed was that the time spent standing does appear to decrease the likelihood that a person will become obese, but does not influence the likelihood of developing metabolic syndrome.

For men:

• Standing a quarter of the time was linked to a 32% reduced likelihood of obesity.
• Standing half the time was associated with a 59% reduced likelihood of obesity.
• Standing more than three-quarters of the time was not associated with a lower risk of obesity.

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For women:

• Standing a quarter of the time was linked to a 35% reduced likelihood of obesity.
• Standing half the time was linked to a 47% reduced likelihood of obesity.
• Standing three quarters of the time was associated with a 57% reduced likelihood of obesity.

Furthermore, when the data analysis included those who met the recommended physical activity guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate activity and/or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per day, the calculated reduced likelihood of obesity was even greater and included measurable decreases in the likelihood of developing metabolic syndrome as well.

However, the researchers caution that their findings should not be interpreted to mean that standing relatively less than normal leads to obesity or that obese people spend less time standing than non-obese people. Self-reporting by patients concerning how much time is spent standing and whether that standing included active movement is subjective evidence that could confound the data analysis.

In addition, standing for too long has its own health consequences for some individuals such as an increased risk of developing varicose veins and potentially harming a fetus during pregnancy.

The authors state that their findings warrant further investigation to confirm their initial findings and establish whether there truly exists a causal relationship between time spent standing and obesity prevention.


Press Release from the American Cancer Society “Standing and exercise linked to lower odds of obesity

Mayo Clinic Proceedings “Standing, Obesity, and Metabolic Syndrome” November 2015, Volume 90, Issue 11, Pages 1524–1532, Kerem Shuval et al.