Prolonged sitting linked with fatty liver disease

Seoul: Prolonged sitting such as watching TV and using the computer and other devices as well as reduced physical activity may increase risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) that may potentially lead to liver failure and death, new research has found.

“We found that prolonged sitting time and decreased physical activity level were positively associated with the prevalence of NAFLD in a large sample of middle-aged Koreans,” said lead investigator Seungho Ryu from Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, South Korea.

The researchers studied records of nearly 140,000 Koreans who underwent a health examination between March 2011 and December 2013.

Physical activity level and sitting time were assessed using the Korean version of the international Physical Activity Questionnaire Short Form.

The presence of fatty liver was determined using ultrasonography.

Of the people studied, nearly 40,000 had NAFLD.

Importantly, the researchers found that both prolonged sitting time and decreased physical activity level were independently associated with increasing prevalence of NAFLD.

Remarkably, these associations were also observed in patients who were not obese.

“The message is clear, our chairs are slowly but surely killing us. Our body is designed to move and it is not surprising that sedentary behavior, characterised by low muscle activity, has a direct impact on physiology,” Michael Trenell, professor of metabolism and lifestyle medicine at Newcastle University in England said.

“With a dearth of approved drug therapies for NAFLD, lifestyle changes remain the cornerstone of clinical care,” Trenell noted.

Their findings were published in the Journal of Hepatology.