Sports Medicine

, Volume 48, Issue 3, pp 585–595 | Cite as

Sedentary Behavior and Body Weight and Composition in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Prospective Studies

  • Scott D. I. Campbell
  • Bradley J. Brosnan
  • Anna K. Y. Chu
  • C. Murray Skeaff
  • Nancy J. Rehrer
  • Tracy L. Perry
  • Meredith C. PeddieEmail author
Systematic Review



The cumulative effect of too much sedentary behavior may contribute to weight gain and obesity.


The aim of this study was to conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective cohorts and randomized controlled studies to determine the association between sedentary behavior and body weight and obesity in adults.

Data Sources and Study Selection

Relevant studies were identified from searches of the MEDLINE, Embase, AMED and PubMed databases up to May 2017, and by manual searches of in-text citations. Studies that evaluated the association in adults between sedentary behavior and body weight or obesity, while controlling for physical activity, were included. Overall, 31 publications met the eligibility criteria, including 23 prospective cohort studies with data that could be extracted for a quantitative meta-analysis, and a single randomized controlled trial.


There were no significant associations between sedentary behavior and any measure of body weight or obesity, with the exception of waist circumference. For the latter outcome, over a 5-year follow-up period, each 1 h per day increase—from baseline to follow-up—in sedentary behavior was associated with a 0.02 mm [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.01–0.04; p = 0.001) increase in waist circumference. The odds ratio of becoming overweight or obese was 1.33 (95% CI 1.11–1.60; p = 0.001) in the highest compared with lowest categories of sedentary behavior.


Meta-analysis of data from prospective cohort studies showed small, inconsistent and non-significant associations between sedentary behavior and body weight.


Compliance with Ethical Standards


Scott Campbell’s work was supported by a Publishing Bursary from the University of Otago. Meredith Peddie’s work was supported by a Research Fellowship from the National Heart Foundation of New Zealand (Grant no. 1518). No other sources of funding were used to assist in the preparation of this article.

Conflict of interest

Scott Campbell, Bradley Brosnan, Anna Chu, C. Murray Skeaff, Nancy Rehrer, Tracy Perry and Meredith Peddie declare that they have no conflicts of interest relevant to the content of this review.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 136 kb)
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Supplementary material 2 (EPS 37 kb)
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Supplementary material 3 (EPS 20 kb)
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Supplementary material 4 (EPS 28 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Scott D. I. Campbell
    • 1
  • Bradley J. Brosnan
    • 1
  • Anna K. Y. Chu
    • 1
  • C. Murray Skeaff
    • 1
  • Nancy J. Rehrer
    • 2
  • Tracy L. Perry
    • 1
  • Meredith C. Peddie
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Human NutritionUniversity of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand
  2. 2.School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise SciencesUniversity of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand

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