Too much TV may mean earlier death

A recent study has confirmed what seems like a logical assertion.  Watching too much television shortens life spans.  The study was quite large so we can reasonably assume the results are legitimate.  The study looked at 8,800 adults without any history of heart disease.  They followed these people for more than 6 years.

Compared to those who watched less than two hours of TV per day, people who watched four hours or more were 80 percent more likely to die from heart disease and 46 percent more likely to die from any cause. All told, 284 people died during the study.

For each additional hour spent rotting in front of the television, the likelihood of developing heart disease went up 18%!  That’s not all.  The likelihood of dying went up 11%.  The study was recently published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

These statistics were consistent even after the authors of the study calculated in other risk factors such as age, cholesterol levels and whether or not the participant smoked.

The obvious association is that the more a person watches TV, the less likely they are to be exercising.  While this is true, it is not the television itself that is the problem.  When they compared people who actually did exercise, they found that even they had an increase chance of dying over participants who watched TV two hours or less per day.  The authors attributed this to the fact that TV was replacing the other activities that must occur in a home if you are not watching TV.  These activities include walking from room to room to do chores, for example, or walking up and down the steps to do the laundry.  These things appear to have a beneficial and cumulative effect on health.

This study was conducted in Australia where the estimated time watching television daily is 3 hours.  In the U.S. the average person watches 5 hours of television. Assuming a person sleeps 8 hours, that leaves only 11 hours left in the day that the average American has to be active.  That’s not a lot if you take into consideration that most Americans work at sedentary jobs as well.

People also eat more when they are sitting and watching TV.  What people usually snack on is the processed, high carbohydrate food.  This further complicates the problem.  The bottom line is that exercising is very important, but you must also avoid activities that force you to sit too much.  Keep your TV viewing to no more than 3 hours per day.

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Filed under Diet, Public Health

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