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Sitting risks greatly exaggerated

The risks of excessive sitting have been greatly exaggerated according to new research, with the risks not even comparable to smoking. 

The term 'Sitting is the new smoking' has been used by multiple organisations including Better Health Victoria, CNN and even the Sydney Morning Herald. 

However, research published in the American Journal of Public Health has found that sitting for roughly eight hours a day has got nothing on the risks associated with smoking. 

The paper which evaluated the evidence on sitting, smoking and health said that between 2012 and 2016 there was a 12-fold increase of news stories that said sitting was the new smoking. 

But in a study of 600,000 adults it was estimated that 5.9 per cent of deaths could be attributed to total daily sitting time, meanwhile smoking was responsible for 21 per cent of deaths among men and 17 per cent of deaths among women. 

In fact, any level of smoking increases risk of dying from any cause by approximately 180 per cent versus just 25 per cent risk increase for sitting. 

The research paper agreed that sitting down for long periods of time was unhealthy with excessive sitting have links to type 2 diabetes among other chronic deceases. 

However much of the health effects of sitting have been lumped into studies into physical activity and many studies have found that physical activity can attenuate the effects of sitting. 

The study also suggested caution in warning against sitting, as sitting had benefits including rest, socialisation and entertainment. 

Overall, it concluded that there was insufficient empirical evidence to say how hazardous sitting is to a person's health. 

The report concluded that equating sitting with smoke is unwarranted, misleading for the public and may serve to distort and trivialize the ongoing and serious risks of smoking. 

"Betteridge's Law of Headlines states that any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no. Is sitting the new smoking? No," the report said.

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