Sitting down for too long not only increases the risk of certain diseases but has also caused about 70,000 deaths, a new study has found.

Data also revealed that chronic diseases that are due to or worsened by sedentary behavior has cost the NHS £700 million ($921 million) each year.

'Could Have Been Avoided'

Researchers at Queen's University Belfast and Ulster University looked into the financial burden caused by sedentary lifestyle. They extrapolated data from previous studies and NHS' spending on type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and three types of cancer.

For the period of 2016-2017, the NHS spent £424 million ($557 million) on cardiovascular disease, £281 million ($370 million) on type 2 diabetes, and £30 million ($39 million) on colon cancer.

The amount of financial burden for all five health conditions, which included endometrial and lung cancer, totaled £0.8 billion ($1.52 billion).

"Our research showed that sedentary behaviour contributed to almost 70,000 lives lost in 2016. This could have been avoided if sedentary behaviour was eliminated in the UK," said lead researcher Leonie Heron from the Center of Public Health and Queen's University Belfast.

Around 11.6 percent of all deaths in the UK in 2016 were related to sedentary behavior. It is notable that a significant fraction of this population will have more than one of the said conditions at any given time. For example, 30 percent of people with type 2 diabetes will also develop cardiovascular disease.

The study was published March 25 in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Need For Public Health Policy

Heron and colleagues noted that the cost of sedentary behavior to public health and government funding calls for clear guidelines and policy interventions.

Dr Keith Diaz, a behavioral medicine expert at Columbia University, said that the lack of effective intervention to address sedentary lifestyle may be due to concerns that it might decrease work productivity.

"Thus, the findings from this study are immensely important as they provide a strong economic case that public health policy changes to reduce workplace sedentary behaviors could be a worthwhile investment," Diaz said.

Diaz advised that the best recourse is to "sit less, move more, and move often."

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