Time trends in correlates of self-reported sitting time in European adults

12 November 2019
Femke van Nassau

This study explores trends in the prevalence of high sitting time and its correlates among “high sitting” and “high sitting-least active” European adults from 2002 to 2017. Both groups have merit for future public health interventions to prevent development of a range of prevalent non-communicable diseases.

Data collected in the 2002 (15 countries), 2005 (30 countries), 2013 (28 countries) and 2017 (28 countries) Eurobarometer surveys were used, including around 15,000 respondents in 2002 and >26,000 respondents in the other years. Sitting time and moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity were measured with the validated International Physical Activity Questionnaire-short. High sitting was defined as >7.5 hours per day. Respondents in the lowest quartile of total reported days of physical activity (i.e. days walking, days in moderate activity, and days in vigorous activity) were defined as least active. Multivariate odds ratios of high sitting, and high sitting-least active were assessed by country and socio-demographic characteristics for each survey year using binary logistic regression analyses.

Trends in sitting time were relatively stable over a 15-year period, although this time trend was limited by a change in the sitting question between 2005 and 2013. Men, higher educated people, students, retired people, white collar workers, people living in urban areas, people with lower physical activity levels, and people living in the Czech Republic, Denmark or the Netherlands were consistently more likely to be in the high sitting group across all four survey years. Similarly, men, students, retired people, unemployed people, white collar workers, and people living in the Czech Republic or Denmark were consistently more likely to be in the high sitting-least active group across all four surveys.

This study identified population sub-groups that need special attention in public health interventions to lower total sitting time.

Reference: Jelsma JGM, Gale J, Loyen A, van Nassau F, Bauman A, van der Ploeg HP. Time trends between 2002 and 2017 in correlates of self-reported sitting time in European adults. PLoS One. 2019 Nov 12;14(11):e0225228. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0225228. eCollection 2019.