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Inactivity on the increase among Americans of all ages, researchers say

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St. Louis — Despite hearing the warnings about the health hazards of prolonged sitting – including greater risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers – most Americans aren’t taking heed.

Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, researchers from the School of Medicine at Washington University in St. Louis examined a “nationally representative sample” of more than 51,000 Americans across various ages, races and ethnic groups over a 16-year period (2001-2016).

The researchers found that daily sitting time among teens increased to just over eight hours a day in 2016 from seven in 2007. Among adults, sitting time rose to nearly 6.5 hours a day from 5.5 in the same time period.

Results also showed that most Americans spend at least two hours a day watching TV or videos. Among children ages 5-11, 62% spent at least two hours in front of screens. That number was 59% for ages 12-19, 65% for ages 20-64 and rose to 84% for adults 65 and older.

In the two most recent years of the study, at least half of people in all age groups used a computer for at least an hour of leisure time. Up to 25% of all ages used a computer for at least three hours a day when away from work or school.

“In almost none of the groups we analyzed are the numbers going in the right direction,” senior author Yin Cao, an epidemiologist and assistant professor of surgery at Washington University, said in an April 23 press release.

The study was published April 23 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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