Watching TV for long hours shortens life expectancy

August 16th, 2011 - 7:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Aug 16 (IANS) People sitting in front of TV for hours on end could shorten their life expectancy by almost five years, says an Australian study published Tuesday by the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Researchers from the University of Queensland have estimated that for every hour adults spend in front of TV, their life expectancy shortens by almost 22 minutes. Those who watched six hours a day lived 4.8 years less than those who don’t watch TV.

The study is first of its kind in Australia looking into TV habits’ effect on longevity.

The researchers found that watching TV could have a similar negative impact on life expectancy to that of obesity, smoking and low physical activity.

“People don’t realise how it all adds up,” the study’s lead author Lennert Veerman told the Australian Associated Press (AAP).

“They should try not to watch too much TV and find alternative things to do, preferably things that are light activities,” Veerman said.

The study was based on data from the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle study. It asked over 11,000 people aged over 25 about their weekly TV viewing time.

The study found that in 2008, Australian adults watched 9.8 billion hours of TV.

“These findings suggest that substantial loss of life may be associated with prolonged TV viewing time among Australian adults,” it said.

“TV viewing time may have adverse health consequences that rival those of lack of physical activity, obesity and smoking; every single hour of TV viewed may shorten life by as much as 22 minutes.

“With further corroborative evidence, a public health case could be made that adults also need to limit the time spent watching TV,” it added.

The study recommends people to spend at least 30 minutes a day doing moderate-intensity physical activity to reduce an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

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