TV is the most popular leisure activity in the United States, Australia and Great Britain. That’s good for the TV networks, but bad for us. A new study suggests that all that time in front of the tube is becoming a health concern. Being a television watching couch potato may be partially to blame for weight gain, high blood pressure, and heart disease risk.
Past studies have shown that people who watch a lot of TV are more likely to have metabolic syndrome than people who watch less TV. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions such as excess body fat, elevated insulin levels, and high blood pressure that put people at risk for serious health conditions later in life. The goal of this research was to figure out whether the symptoms of metabolic syndrome, become worse in people who increase their TV-viewing over a period of five years.
The study collected information from thousands of Australians about their health and lifestyles, then collected the same data from these subjects five years later in order to identify any changes. The researchers for the TV study picked almost 4,000 individuals from the larger survey, all over 25 years of age. They divided the people into two groups: those whose TV-watching increased over five years and those whose TV-watching remained the same. The symptoms of metabolic syndrome were then compared between the groups.
The results showed that an increase in TV-watching does have an unhealthy effect. For both men and women, people who increased their TV viewing similarly increased their waistlines. Meanwhile, women who watched more TV also developed higher blood pressure than women who watched the same amount as before. Interestingly, these factors were not affected by exercise: even those who exercised more after five years showed increased signs of metabolic syndrome if they watched more TV.
As tempting as it is to relax in front of the television after a hard day, it won’t do you any favors in the long run. You already know to limit your kids’ TV time, so follow some of your own advice. Get off the couch, turn off the TV, and be active: your health is more important than any sitcom episode.