People who spend more than six hours in front of the television every day are at greater risk of dying, a new study reveals.
Even two hours of television a day has a marked effect on health, according to a Harvard study. It can cause premature death or, at least, lead to diabetes and heart disease.
But using the internet does NOT cause death, diabetes or disease.
Every day, U.S. residents spend an average of 5 hours watching television, while Australians and some Europeans log 3.5 to 4 hours a day, said researchers led by Frank Hu, at the Harvard School of Public Health.
The study found that people who watch Jersey Shore, American Idol or reruns of Cheers were the most likely to die from watching television. If you watch The View – you have a greater chance of having a bowel disorder.
Dr Iain Frame, said the findings should be a wake-up call about the risk of leading a sedentary television lifestyle. He said evidence suggests physical activity can reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes and heart disease by over 60%.
Maureen Talbot, of the British Heart Foundation, said: “I’m sure we’ve all unintentionally lost evenings slumped on the sofa in front of the TV snacking on crisps and biscuits and drinking sugary drinks or alcohol. But it’s important that this doesn’t become a regular activity, according to BBC News.
The study was confirmed by a similar study at the Diabetes Institute in Australia.
The human body evolved to move, not sit still for extended periods of time, says David Dunstan, PhD, lead author of the study and head of the Physical Activity Laboratory. So sitting in front of a TV or a computer screen for too long poses serious risks to health, and to life, the researchers say.
“What has happened is that a lot of the normal activities of daily living that involved standing up and moving the muscles in the body have been converted to sitting,” Dunstan says in a news release. “Technological, social, and economic changes mean that people don’t move their muscles as much as they used to — consequently the levels of energy expenditure as people go about their lives continue to shrink. For many people, on a daily basis, they simply shift from one chair to another, from the chair in the car to the chair in the office to the chair in front of the television.”
Dunstan and his team of researchers looked at 3,846 men and 4,954 women ages 25 and older to find out what happens to people who sit too much. They were asked about their TV viewing habits and were grouped into one of three categories: people who watched less than two hours of TV daily, those who watched between two and four hours of television daily, and those who spent more than four hours in front of the tube.
The researchers excluded people with a history of cardiovascular disease, and the entire group was then followed for more than six years. During the study period, 284 of the people died, 125 from cancer and 87 because of cardiovascular disease.
Dunstan and his colleagues write that the link between cancer and TV viewing was only modest, but that there was a direct association between television time and elevated cardiovascular death, as well as death from all causes. This was true, they say, even after accounting for typical cardiovascular disease risk factors and other lifestyle practices.