Published in the June 15, 2011, Journal of the American Medical Association
, a meta-analysis study was published by researches Frank B. Hu, MD, PhD and Anders Grontved, MPH, on the long terms effects of excess television viewing.
The researchers, from the Harvard School of Public Health, did a comprehensive analysis of studies on television watching over a 40 year period from 1970 up to 2011. In addition to large-scale American studies were similar studies from Australia and Europe. The studies linked television viewing with an increased risk for heart disease, type II mature onset adult diabetes and pre-mature death.
The outcomes of the analysis identified these specific parameters for daily TV watching and disease states:
- In excess of two hours per day increases risk for type II diabetes and heart disease
- In excess of three hours per day increases the risk of premature death
- An additional 2 hours per day increases the risk for all of these conditions by 20%
- An additional 4 hours per day increases the risk of all of these conditions by 15%
- An additional 6 hours per day increases the risk of all of these conditions by 13%
Summary: an individual who watches 8 hours of TV in a 24 hour period increases their risk by almost 50% for developing heart disease, type II diabetes and premature death.
The risk factors are believed to be due to in part to an increase in overall body weight, which can be the result of the additional “munchies” consumed during TV viewing, as well as the lack of activity and exercise. What would be interesting to know is if an individual is exercising on their home exercise equipment, and not eating snacks and treats while they watch TV, if the statistics would be similar.
I think it would be reasonable to conclude that it is not the TV watching, per say, that causes the increases in these disease states and early death, but rather the activities, or lack of, that the individual is involved in during the TV watching. Treadmill walking, an elliptical workout or bike spinning exercises during TV watching would not produce the same physical responses as eating snacks and being sedentary. It would appear to be a good idea to combine TV watching with an exercise routine to reduce risk and increase health.
Dr. Georgianna Donadio