It's no bum rap: it's hard to find a stand-up guy in SA
SA men are five times more likely than women to spend eight hours or more on their backsides every day
South African men have had their butts kicked over the amount of time they spend sitting on them.
Scientists who analysed sedentary behaviour in SA and five other low- and middle-income countries say South African men are five times more likely than women to spend eight hours or more on their backsides every day.
The other countries in the study, led by Ai Koyanagi from the University of Barcelona, were China, Ghana, India, Mexico and Russia.
Reporting their findings in the journal PLOS One, the physiotherapists who crunched the bum numbers said: “It might be that, particularly in more rural areas, women are more responsible for the livelihood of the family, thus spending less time sedentary.”
Other findings included:
• SA and Mexico had a high proportion of obese individuals and people with low levels of physical activity;
• SA was the only country where low body mass index was linked with high sedentary behaviour. The researchers said: “Low body weight may be an indicator of malnourishment or other serious health problems such as HIV, which is highly prevalent in SA and is associated with being more sedentary;” and
• The association between high sedentary behaviour and urban settings was particularly strong in SA and Mexico.Data for the analysis came from more than 42,000 people who took part in the World Health Organisation Study on Global Ageing and Adult Health between 2007 and 2010.
One in 12 people reported spending more than eight waking hours a day sitting or reclining, although in SA it was only one in 22.
“Sedentary behaviour has been associated with physical health conditions including obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease ... and overall premature mortality,” said Koyanagi, adding that it had also been linked to depression and anxiety.
Two of the key factors behind sedentary behaviour were unemployment and urbanisation, she said.
“Physical inactivity, morbid obesity, higher number of chronic conditions, poor self-reported health, higher disability levels and worse health status in terms of mobility, pain/discomfort, sleep/energy and cognition were associated with high sedentary behaviour.”
But it was still unclear whether spending too much time sitting caused ill health, or the other way round.