The study, published in the online version of JAMA Ophthalmology by Paul D. Loprinzi, Ph.D of the University of Mississippi, examined the association of sedentary behavior (SB) with diabetic retinopathy (DR). The researcher used data from 2005 to 2006 found in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
The study included 282 participants who had diabetes. The average age of the subjects was 62, and 29 percent had at least a mild form of DR. The participants engaged on average in 522 minutes per day of SB. Sedentary behavior was assessed with an accelerometer and measured while participants were awake.
The author of the study found that those with a 60-minute per day increase in SB had a 16 percent increased risk of having mild or worse DR. Total physical activity was not associated with DR.
"The plausibility of this positive association between SB and DR may in part be a result of the increased cardiovascular disease risks associated with SB, which in turn may increase the risk of DR. This association does not prove a cause and effect of SB and increased chance of worsening DR. To know whether this observed association had a cause-and-effect relationship, intervention trials would be needed in which individuals were assigned randomly to increase PA and decreased prolonged SB had a decreased chance of worsening DR," writes Dr. Loprinzi.