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 BMI and b) the association of sedentary time on metabolic health and liver fat.
Ninety-eight habitually active participants (53 female, 45 male; age 39±13 years; BMI 26.9±5.1 kg/m2), underwent assessments of PA (SenseWear armband; wear time ~98%), cardio-respiratory fitness (V[Combining Dot Above]O2 peak), body composition (MRI and MRS) and multi-organ insulin sensitivity (OGTT). We undertook a) cross-sectional analysis comparing four groups: non-obese 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.
Light, moderate and vigorous PA did not account for differences in metabolic health between individuals, whether non-obese or obese, although MetS+ individuals were more sedentary, with a higher number, and prolonged bouts (~1-2 hours). Overall, sedentary time, average daily METS and V[Combining Dot Above]O2 peak were each independently associated with liver fat percentage. Each additional hour of daily sedentary time was associated with a 1.15% (95% CI, 1.14–1.50%) higher liver fat content.
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 cardio-respiratory fitness and average daily METS is associated with lower liver fat.
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1School of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK;
2Institute of Ageing & Chronic Disease, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK;
3Obesity and Endocrinology Research Group, Clinical Sciences Centre, University Hospital Aintree, Liverpool, UK;
4Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Science, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK;
5Wolfson Centre for Personalised Medicine, Institute of Translational Medicine, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK;
6Department of Psychological Sciences, Institute of Psychology Health and Society, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK;
7Appetite Control and Energy Balance Research, School of Psychology, Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK;
8Liverpool Magnetic Resonance Imaging Centre (LiMRIC), University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK;
9School Sport, Exercise Health Sciences, National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine - East Midlands, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK
Corresponding author: Kelly A. Bowden Davies, Institute of Ageing & Chronic Disease, University of Liverpool, William Henry Duncan Building, 6 West Derby Street, Liverpool, L7 8TX, UK; firstname.lastname@example.org; +44 (0)151 794 9141
Original funding support by Diabetes UK (grant number 13/0004719) with additional support from the MRC-Arthritis Research UK Centre for Integrated research into Musculoskeletal Ageing (CIMA) and internal funding from Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease, University of Liverpool. Andrew Irwin (Obesity and Endocrinology, University Hospital Aintree, UK) for clinical assistance and Val Adams for radiographic expertise at LiMRIC. Conflict of Interest: The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest associated with this manuscript. MH has support from NIHR Leicester BRC. The results of the study to not constitute endorsement by ACSM and are presented clearly, honestly, and without fabrication, falsification, or inappropriate data manipulation.
Accepted for publication: 28 December 2018.