Sitting at desk
[Representational Image] Spending large amount of time sitting down may increase the risk of chronic illnesses.Getty Images/Hero Images

People who spend a lot of time sitting are at high risk of several health problems. Obesity and back pain are some of the most common problems faced by them.

A new study by the University of Leicester, which was published in a journal called Obesity, warns that this group of people are also at an increased risk of chronic illnesses like type 2 diabetes and heart diseases.

The researchers said that even slim-looking people are affected by their habit of sitting down for a longer period time. According to them, the reason behind it is an 'unseen fat' called Visceral.

Visceral fat is described as an unseen, abdominal fat that is deposited around the internal organs, including pancreas, kidneys and liver. The higher level of this fat in a person's body can have harmful effects.

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"We know that spending long periods of time sedentary is unhealthy and a risk factor for chronic illnesses, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Likewise, the amount of fat deposited around our internal organs may also predispose us to these diseases," Dr Joe Henson, lead author of the study, said.

For their latest study, the researchers observed a group of 124 people, who were at the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. They used MRI scan and an electromechanical device called accelerometer to measure the time each participant spent sitting down in a week.

Dr Henson and his team found that visceral fat was highly deposited in those people's body, who were not involved in "moderate-intensity physical activity" recommended by the public health department.

"Using MRI techniques and physical activity monitors we have shown that the more time spent sedentary, the stronger the association with higher levels of internal and abdominal fat. This was particularly so if the long periods of sedentary behavior were uninterrupted," Dr Henson said.

The researcher also explained various ways to reduce the risk of several preventable diseases, including cancer, stroke and heart diseases. He revealed that spare time work out can play a vital role in decreasing the level of Visceral fat deposited in a person's body.

"Our findings also show that reaching the [...] government's target of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity may offer some protection against the harmful effects of prolonged sedentary time," Dr Henson said.