Study: ‘Couch Potato’ Lifestyles Cause Up to 8% of Global Deaths

Woman sitting on couch with magazine and crisps, mid section

“Couch potatoes,” take note: Sedentary behavior now accounts for up to 8% of non-communicable diseases and deaths worldwide, researchers say.

Physical inactivity is a known risk factor for premature death and several non-communicable diseases, including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and several cancers.

In a new study, researchers analyzed 2016 data from 168 countries. They found the proportions of non-communicable diseases attributable to physical inactivity ranged from nearly 2% for high blood pressure to more than 8% for dementia.

Physical inactivity was defined as less than 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week.

People in rich nations have a more than two times greater risk of these physical inactivity-related diseases than people in poor nations. In 2016, levels of physical inactivity in wealthy countries were estimated to be more than double those in low-income countries.