Study links TV watching to reduced life span

Hate to post this on a football Saturday, but you need to know. Plonking yourself on the couch in front of the TV could be taking years off your life – 4.8 years to be exact.

Australian researchers have found that for every hour of television viewed by a person over the age of 25, their life expectancy is reduced by 22 minutes. Their study, from the British Journal of Sports Medicine, was based on an average six hours viewing per day, compared to a person who watches no television.

Using data from the National Bureau of Statistics and the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study, the researchers generated life-expectancy tables based on the viewing habits of average Australians.

The results were alarming.

“TV viewing time may be associated with a loss of life that is comparable to other major chronic disease risk factors such as physical inactivity, smoking and obesity,” the study found. “These findings suggest that substantial loss of life may be associated with prolonged TV viewing time among Australian adults.”

The research claims that a sedentary lifestyle is as bad for health as smoking and obesity, because of the dangers posed by inactivity and the greater opportunities it offers for unhealthy eating. The study also revealed that in 2008, Australians aged 25 and older watched a total of 9.8 billion hours of TV that year alone.

Recent studies in the US also concluded that the average American spent 35.5 hours a week watching TV.

The study is the first of it’s kind to analyse the impact of television viewing on life expectancy and has called for a public health case to warn adults of the risks of watching too much television.

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