Couch potatoes dicing with death, study shows

There’s more on the pernicious
of prolonged television watching in the news. An analysis of eight
separates studies on the link between TV watching and diabetes and heart
disease should scare couch potatoes off their sofas -- but will it? Can a habit
that begins in childhood be broken easily?

Co-author of the study, Dr Frank Hu of the Harvard School of
Public Health, found that for every two hours people spent glued to the tube on
a typical day, their risk of developing diabetes increases by 20 per cent, their
risk of heart disease by 15 per cent, and from any cause at all by 13 per cent
-- although in the last case the risk appeared greater after three hours

In other words, the risk to your health of watching two or
three of your favourite serials end to end habitually is similar to having high
cholesterol or smoking. And yet TV viewing is the most commonly reported daily
activity after working and sleeping. The meta-analysis, published in the
Journal of the American Medical Association, suggests that on average, 40 per
cent of daily free time is spent on TV in several European countries, and 50
per cent in Australia. In the US, according to a recent report, people who watch
TV spend an average of five hours daily on it.

Besides displacing physical activities, TV viewing is also
associated with unhealthy eating (in both children and adults) and
susceptibility to advertised products. Of course there are other ways of
leading a sedentary life (like sitting at a computer reading the news and
writing about it!) but, there is (thankfully) a difference:

“This is really the couch-potato syndrome,” Hu says. “These
are extremely sedentary people who spend several hours on a couch watching TV.
They’re very passive and their energy expenditure is very low, even compared to
other sedentary behaviors like sitting and reading, or sitting while driving.”

I think I’ll go and take my daily walk now…


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