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Britain has become MORE lazy as the number of people who spend hours sitting around leaps by 22.5%

Britain is getting lazier, with a huge rise in the number of people who spend more than four-and-a-half hours a day sitting down.

In Spain, the proportion of people who spend too long sitting around has risen by less than four per cent in 15 years.

But in the UK, it has leapt by 22.5 per cent, with more than half the population potentially risking their health by spending too long seated.

Experts say the rise of screens, and compulsive need for people to check their smart phones at all hours of the day, may be partly to blame. 

The 22.5 per cent rise in sedentary behaviour seen in Britain is far higher than the rise of less than 0.2 per cent in Italy, 7.4 per cent in Germany, and the 17.8 per cent increase in France.

This was worked out by researchers who looked at snapshot surveys of physical activity across more than 96,000 people in 28 European countries from 2002 to 2017.

Four and a half hours of sitting per day was used as the minimum to judge someone as being too sedentary.

That is because evidence shows people who sit down for this long start to see their risk of heart attacks, strokes and early death increase.

Dr Xián Mayo Mauriz, a co-author of the study from King Juan Carlos University in Spain, said: ‘Most people know that sitting too much is unhealthy, but it is not always a choice because life is so busy.

‘People sit while commuting to work, or meeting friends, and people spend a lot more time checking emails, on social media or watching shows on screens than perhaps they did 15 years ago.

‘It is important for them to be aware of the physical and mental health issues which are linked to being sedentary, and try to get up more.’

The study, published in the journal BMC Public Health, surveyed around 1,000 people in Britain in the years 2002, 2005, 2013 and 2017.

They were asked how much time they spent sitting during a typical day, which could include time working at a desk, meeting with friends or watching television.

The latest results, for 2017, show 53.3 per cent of people in this country spent at least four and a half hours sitting around per day.

That proportion had leapt from only 43.5 per cent of the population in 2002.

Men appear to be the worst culprits, with a 15-year rise in those who sit too much of 25 per cent, compared to just 16.5 per cent for women.

The average age of people whose survey answers were analysed for the study was around 50 for Britain.

The authors suggest that older women may still do more housework than men, which at least has the health benefit of stopping them from sitting for too long during the day.

The survey results, taken from a questionnaire called the Sport and Physical Activity EU Special Barometer, show younger people are almost as likely to be sedentary than pensioners.

Across all 28 EU countries analysed, including Britain before Brexit, 58 per cent of people aged 18 to 24 spent more than four-and-a-half hours sitting in a typical day.

That fell only just short of the 59.4 per cent of people aged 65 and older who said the same.

Across the countries, the proportion of sedentary people rose from 49.3 per cent in 2002 to 54.5 per cent in 2017.

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