Is watching TV threatening our health?
We’ve heard it over and over again: binge watching TV isn’t healthy. But, for those of us who have chosen to put these warnings in the back of our minds, casting them off as just another outrageous health claim, you may want to reconsider plowing through the latest season of Scandal in an afternoon.
A recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that adults who watch three or more hours of TV each day may double their risk of premature death from any cause compared to adults who watch one hour or less every day.
Researchers followed 13,284 Spanish students for just over eight years and monitored the students’ television, computer and driving time to examine the relationship between sedentary time and mortality.
97 deaths were reported during the follow up – 19 due to cardiovascular disease, 46 due to cancer and 32 due to other non-cardiovascular/non-cancer causes. Researchers did not report a significant association between increased risk for mortality and computer or driving time, but the risk for death was two times higher for participants who watched more than three hours of TV every day.
“Television viewing is a major sedentary behavior and there is an increasing trend toward all types of sedentary behaviors,” said the study’s lead author, Miguel Martinez-Gonzalez, in a news release. “Our findings are consistent with a range of previous studies where time spent watching television was linked to mortality.”
But just three hours? According to the Nielsen Cross Platform Report, the average American over age 18 watches about five hours of TV every day, a far cry from the recommended one hour. But the risk is significant because for every additional two hours spent watching TV, the risk for premature death of all causes increased by 55 percent, according to the study.
“As the population ages, sedentary behaviors will become more prevalent, especially watching television, and this poses an additional burden on the increased health problems related to aging,” Martinez-Gonzalez said in a news release. “Our findings suggest adults may consider increasing their physical activity, avoid long sedentary periods, and reduce television watching to no longer than one to two hours each day.”
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.