Your TV habit might be killing you!?


It’s late September, time for many adults to settle in for a new season of prime-time drama, comedy, sports, reality competition and the occasional three hour political debate.

As you get comfy on your sofa, you might want to consider this: Your TV habit might be killing you. A growing body of evidence links not just sitting in general but TV viewing in particular with all sorts of health problems. Those include obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and, yes, premature death.

Too much TV “is a really serious health hazard,” says Frank Hu, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard University.

  • Studies show that for each two-hour increase in daily TV viewing was associated with a 20% increased risk of Type 2 diabetes, a 13% increased risk of cardiovascular disease and a 13% increased risk of death from any cause – translating to about 2.8M deaths each year in the USA.  This number is a result of the increased number of those adults with hypertension and diabetes don’t move around much when they settle in to watch TV.  This greatly reduces them from getting any type of increase in blood circulation or exercise.
  • TV watchers, unlike readers, “get bombarded with junk-food commercials and commercials for soft drinks,” Dr. Hu says from Harvard University.  It’s a known fact that people who watch a lot of TV eat more junk food, drink more soda and consume more calories.
  • According to Nielsen TV ratings, even with the growth of smartphones, tablets, online video and other alternative distractions;  adults on average spend more than five hours a day watching TV.  Nielson and other sources agree that adults over 50 watch far more than younger adults.
  • You have more than 100 channels on a remote control, you are just sitting there and you don’t need to move your feet at all!
  • It’s still important to aim for 150 minutes a week or more of moderate to vigorous activity, such as brisk walking or running – guidelines that are backed by strong evidence scientifically.

To this I say:  ” Challenge Yourself!”

  • Try a week without TV and see how it affects the way you feel and what you do with your time.
  • If a week seems impossible, start by lowering your TV time by half an hour a day.
  • Stand up, run in place or wander around the house during commercials.
  • Ban eating in front of the TV.  You may be less likely to eat mindlessly if you do it elsewhere.

Drs. Warren Johnson| Do Nguyen


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