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TV viewing habits ‘linked to poorer health’

TV viewing habits ‘linked to poorer health’
30th October 2015

Watching television to unwind is a common way to relax for many people; however a new study in the US reveals that TV habits could be linked to poorer health.

Research from the National Cancer Institute and published in the latest issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, reports an association between increasing hours of television viewing per day and an increased risk of death from most of the major causes of death in the US. 

Some 92 per cent of Americans have a TV at home and an average of 80 per cent of American adults watch 3.5 hours per day, with watching television one of the most popular pass-times in the country.

The new study examined 221,000 individuals aged between 50 and 71 who were free of chronic disease at the start of the trial. An association for higher mortality risk from heart disease and cancer was confirmed, while new evidence linked TV viewing habits to diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and liver disease.

It discovered that in comparison to those who watched less than one hour per day of TV, those who viewed three to four hours each day were 15 per cent more likely to die from any cause. Those who watched seven or more hours daily were then found to be 47 per cent more likely to die over the study period.

Lead investigator, Dr Sarah Keadle, cancer prevention fellow from the Nutritional Epidemiology Branch, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, stated: “We know that television viewing is the most prevalent leisure-time sedentary behaviour and our working hypothesis is that it is an indicator of overall physical inactivity.

“In this context, our results fit within a growing body of research indicating that too much sitting can have many different adverse health effects.”

Dr Keadle went on to say advise that individuals, especially older adults who on average watch the most TV, should aim to reduce their sedentary TV viewing and replace some of this time with physical activity.

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