Researchers from Tel Aviv University looked at MRI images of muscle tissue in people who had been paralyzed by spinal cord injuries and found that major amounts of fat cells stretched to surround the areas around the muscles that endured pressure from lying or sitting. The researchers then manipulated a group of fat cells to stretch and stay sedentary for long periods of time, representing the time spent sitting or lying down. After two weeks, they found that stretched cells produced nearly 50 percent more liquid fat than regular fat cells.
“These findings indicate that we need to take our cells’ mechanical environment into account as well as pay attention to calories consumed and burned,” Amit Gefen, one of the Tel Aviv researchers, told the U.K.’s Telegraph.“
Previous research found that those who were bound to wheelchairs or were bedridden developed abnormal muscle and fat growth in areas of the body where more pressure was placed. But Gefen said this research could also translate to the not so extreme sedentary lifestyle.
Even those who eat well and exercise can suffer the consequences of a bigger butt and waistline if they stay seated for longer periods of time, according to this research. But forgo the exercise and become a couch potato and the results could be worse, Gefen told The Telegraph.