Sedentary behaviour is increasingly recognized as an important health risk, but comparable data across Europe are scarce. The objective of a study we conducted and that was published this week in Plos ONE, was to explore the prevalence and correlates of self-reported sitting time in adults across and within the 28 European Union Member States. This study was linked to the determinants of diet and physical activity (DEDIPAC) joint action of the Healthy Diet for a Healthy Life joint programming initiative.
This study reports data from the Eurobarometer in 2013 with 27,919 randomly selected Europeans (approximately 1000 per Member State).
Median sitting time across Europe was five hours per day. Across Europe, 18.5 percent of the respondents reported to sit more than 7.5 hours per day, with substantial variation between countries (ranging from 8.9 to 32.1 percent). In general, northern European countries reported more sitting than countries in the south of Europe. ‘Current occupation’ and ‘age when stopped education’ were found to be the strongest correlates of sitting time, both across Europe and within most Member States. Compared to manual workers, people with office occupations were 5 times more likely to sit more than 7.5 hours per day. Students were more than 3 times more likely to sit more than 7.5 hours per day than manual workers.
There is thus substantial variation in sitting time among European adults across countries as well as socio-demographic groups.