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Physical Activity and Sedentary Time: Association with Metabolic Health and Liver Fat

Davies, Kelly A Bowden and Sprung, Victoria S and Norman, Juliette A and Thompson, Andrew and Mitchell, Katie L and Harrold, Jo A and Finlayson, Graham and Gibbons, Catherine and Wilding, John PH and Kemp, Graham J and Hamer, Mark and Cuthbertson, Daniel J (2019) Physical Activity and Sedentary Time: Association with Metabolic Health and Liver Fat. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 51 (6). pp. 1169-1177. ISSN 0195-9131


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Introduction/Purpose To investigate whether (a) lower levels of daily physical activity (PA) and greater sedentary time accounted for contrasting metabolic phenotypes (higher liver fat/presence of metabolic syndrome [METS+] vs lower liver fat/absence of metabolic syndrome [METS−]) in individuals of similar body mass index and (b) the association of sedentary time on metabolic health and liver fat. Methods Ninety-eight habitually active participants (53 female, 45 male; age, 39 ± 13 yr; body mass index 26.9 ± 5.1 kg·m−2), underwent assessments of PA (SenseWear armband; wear time ~98%), cardiorespiratory fitness (V˙O2 peak), body composition (magnetic resonance imaging and magnetic resonance spectroscopy) and multiorgan insulin sensitivity (oral glucose tolerance test). We undertook a) cross-sectional analysis comparing four groups: nonobese or obese, with and without metabolic syndrome (METS+ vs METS−) and b) univariate and multivariate regression for sedentary time and other levels of PA in relation to liver fat. Results Light, moderate, and vigorous PA did not account for differences in metabolic health between individuals, whether nonobese or obese, although METS+ individuals were more sedentary, with a higher number, and prolonged bouts (~1–2 h). Overall, sedentary time, average daily METS and V˙O2 peak were each independently associated with liver fat percentage. Each additional hour of daily sedentary time was associated with a 1.15% (95% confidence interval, 1.14%–1.50%) higher liver fat content. Conclusions Greater sedentary time, independent of other levels of PA, is associated with being metabolically unhealthy; even in habitually active people, lesser sedentary time, and higher cardiorespiratory fitness and average daily METS is associated with lower liver fat.

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