Open Access Open Badges Research article

Sitting time and health outcomes among Mexican origin adults: obesity as a mediator

Hendrik D de Heer1*, Anna V Wilkinson2, Larkin L Strong3, Melissa L Bondy4 and Laura M Koehly5

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Physical Therapy and Athletic Training, Northern Arizona University, 208 E Pine Knoll Dr. Bldg. 66, Rm. 112, PO Box 15105, Flagstaff 86011, AZ, USA

2 Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living, The University of Texas School of Public Health Austin Regional Campus, Austin, TX, USA

3 Department of Health Disparities, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA

4 Dan L. Duncan Cancer Center, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA

5 National Human Genome Research Institute, Social and Behavioral Research Branch, Bethesda, MD, USA

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BMC Public Health 2012, 12:896  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-896

Published: 23 October 2012



Sitting time and sedentary behaviors have been associated with adverse health outcomes including obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease (CVD) within non- Hispanic White populations. Similar associations have not been described within Hispanic populations despite their high CVD risk profile. This study aimed to assess the association between sitting time and obesity, self-reported diagnosed diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol among a large cohort (N=11,268) of Mexican origin adults and to assess whether obesity mediated these associations.


Using a cross-sectional design, data collected between 2004 and 2010 were analyzed in late 2010. Regression analyses evaluated associations between self-reported daily sitting hours and disease outcomes, controlling for demographics, employment status, family disease history, and light, moderate and strenuous physical activity.


Participants were mostly female (81.1%) Mexican origin adults. Sitting time was associated with increased odds of being obese, having diabetes and having hypertension, but not high cholesterol. Adjusted odds ratios of participants who reported sitting > 4 hours/day compared to those sitting 1-2 hours/day were for obesity OR=1.55 (95% CI 1.39, 1.73), p<.001, for diabetes OR=1.29 (95% CI, 1.09, 1.52), p=.003, for hypertension OR=1.17 (95% CI, 1.01, 1.37), p=.041. Associations controlled for physical activity and employment status. Effects on hypertension and diabetes were mediated by obesity.


Sitting time was significantly associated with detrimental health outcomes, independent of physical activity. Obesity mediated these relationships for diabetes and hypertension. Future research should assess whether interventions addressing sitting time are feasible and effective among Mexican origin populations.

Sitting time; Diabetes; Obesity; Hypertension; Hispanic