Background: One of the major immediate and long-term health issues in modern society is the problem of overweight and obesity. This paper examines the role of the workplace in the problem by studying the association between occupational sitting time and overweight and obesity (body mass index [BMI] <25) in a sample of adult Australians in full-time employment.
Methods: Data on age, gender, occupation, physical activity, occupational sitting time, and BMI were collected in September 2003 from a sample of 1579 adult men and women in full-time employment at the time of the survey. Logistic regression was used to examine the association between occupational sitting time and overweight and obesity.
Results: Mean occupational sitting time was >3 hours/day, and significantly higher in men (209 minutes) than in women (189 minutes, p=0.026). Univariate analyses showed significant associations between occupational sitting time and BMI of <25 in men but not in women. After adjusting for age, occupation, and physical activity, the odds ratio for BMI <25 was 1.92 (confidence interval: 1.17-3.17) in men who reported sitting for >6 hours/day, compared with those who sat for <45 minutes/day.
Conclusions: Occupational sitting time was independently associated with overweight and obesity in men who were in full-time paid work. These results suggest that the workplace may play an important role in the growing problem of overweight and obesity. Further research is needed to clearly understand the association between sitting time at work and overweight and obesity in women.