Watching TV May Shorten Life for Couch Potatoes, Study Finds
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By Kanoko Matsuyama and Nichola Saminather
Jan. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Every hour spent sitting idle in front of the television raises the risk of premature death from heart disease by 18 percent, an Australian study found.
Researchers tracked the TV-viewing habits of 8,800 adults and followed them for six years. They found those who spent four hours daily in front of the tube had an 80 percent greater risk of dying from cardiovascular disease than those who watched the box for less than two hours.
The association was independent of risks such as smoking, obesity and unhealthy diet.
Prolonged inactivity, which can raise blood-sugar and cholesterol levels, is to blame for the health effects, not the appliance itself, said David Dunstan, a study author and researcher at Baker IDI Heart & Diabetes Institute in Melbourne. The finding, published today in the medical journal Circulation, supports studies from the Rochester, Minnesota-based Mayo Clinic showing that watching too much television is one of the biggest contributors to a sedentary lifestyle and weight gain.
“Too much sitting is bad for health,” said Dunstan, a professor of health sciences. “Avoid sitting for prolonged periods and keep in mind to move more, more often.”
Australians and Britons watch television for an average of three hours a day. In the U.S., where two-thirds of all adults are overweight or obese, viewing time is as much as eight hours, Dunstan said.
To contact the reporters on this story: Kanoko Matsuyama in Tokyo at firstname.lastname@example.org
; Nichola Saminather in Sydney at email@example.com
Last Updated: January 12, 2010 00:55 EST