Elders watch more TV than younger people

June 29th, 2010 - 3:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, June 29 (IANS) Contrary to popular belief, older adults watch more TV than children or teenagers and it is not good for them either, a study has revealed.
Researchers at the Stein Institute for Research on Ageing, University of California, San Diego (UCSD) examined TV use in a large, nationally representative sample that was collected by the Centre for Health and Well Being at Princeton University.

Using an innovative, diary-like assessment strategy called the Day Reconstruction Method, study participants were asked to measure how they spent their time and describe their experience of everyday activities.

“We found that older people spent a great deal more time watching TV than younger people did, yet they enjoyed the experience less,” said first author Colin A. Depp, assistant professor of psychiatry at UCSD’s Stein Institute for Research on Ageing.

“What the study underscored is that alternatives to television as entertainment are needed, especially in older adults,” Depp said.

The study looked at 3,092 Americans, aged 15 to 98, in a survey data collected in 2006. Adults over 65 years of age reported spending three times more time watching TV than did younger adults.

Older adults did not seem to experience the same “stress buffering” effects that younger adults did from watching TV, and TV use among older adults - unlike time spent on other leisure activities, such as socialising or physical exercise - was related to lower life satisfaction.

Data from other studies indicate that the average American household spends 4.5 hours watching TV per day and, in those over age 65, about 25 percent of their time is spent watching TV.

Recent work suggests that sedentary activity, such as TV watching, is associated with negative changes in many aspects of health including cardiovascular, bone health and cellular function.

Television use in particular has been linked with greater risk for obesity and Type2 diabetes, lower life satisfaction, less frequent engagement in social and physical interaction and increased risk for dementia, said a University release.

These findings were published online in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine

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