How excessive TV watching affects young adults
The more television young adults watch, the more likely they are to struggle with obesity later in life, according to a new study.
Participants who watched more television when they were 30 years old were more likely to be obese five years later, compared to those who did not watch as much television. The connection did not occur for older adults, signaling that young adulthood may be an important time to promote less television watching.
Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health analyzed data from 3,269 adults who participated in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults study. Every five years, participants recorded their television viewing habits, measured their waist circumference and measured their body mass index. Data was collected for 15 years.
“Starting early in life is always easier, but even with a late start, if not controlled, it will only get more difficult to restrain as time goes on, so people need to put a limit on their daily screen time,” says Dr. Enrique Saguil, an Advocate Medical Group family medicine physician at Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin, Ill. “Technology has given the world great gifts, but as humans we still have to work muscles regularly, eat to support a healthy body, and unplug from our fast-paced life routine.”
Researchers said the increased risk for obesity later in life for those who watch more television could be due to the fact that young adults are more likely to snack while watching television. That includes junk food, which is heavily advertised on television.
“If a commercial is for food or a restaurant, you know you will see the juiciest shots in the best light,” says Dr. Saguil. “People need to prepare for being programmed to make a choice based on a tired mind, sedentary body and hungry gut.”
The study also found that 23 percent of the men and 20.6 percent of the women watched four or more hours of daily television. For heavy TV viewers, 35.9 percent were black and 8.6 percent were white.
Approximately 40.8 percent had a high school education or less, 17.4 percent had an education beyond high school, according to the study. A lower family income and higher rates of smoking and drinking alcohol were also associated with more TV watching.
“When watching a screen you cannot be moving,” says Dr. Saguil. “People excel when they move, and all screen time should be limited.”
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