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Television Watching May Shorten Life Expectancy

Posted Sep 09 2011 10:19pm
Posted on 2011-09-09 06:00:00 in Lifestyle | Longevity |


In that sedentary behavior is associated with a higher risk of death, particularly from heart attack or stroke, some previous studies have suggested that prolonged television watching is associated with an increased risk of chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease. J Lennert Veerman, from The University of Queensland (Australia), and colleagues used previously published data on the relationship between TV viewing time and death from analyses of the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study (AusDiab), a national survey involving 11,000+ adults, ages 25 years and older; as well as Australian national population and mortality figures for 2008, to construct a lifetime risk framework. The team then constructed a risk framework for the Australian population in 2008, based on the answers the survey participants had given, when quizzed about the total amount of time they had spent in the previous week watching TV or videos.  In 2008 the authors estimated that Australian adults aged 25 and older watched 9.8 billion hours of TV, which led them to calculate that every single hour of TV watched after the age of 25 shortened the viewer's life expectancy by just under 22 minutes. Based on these figures, and expected deaths from all causes, the authors calculated that an individual who spends a lifetime average of six hours a day watching TV can expect to live just under five fewer years than someone who does not watch TV. These figures compare with the impact of other well known lifestyle factors on the risk of death from cardiovascular disease after the age of 50, including physical activity and obesity. For example, other research has shown that lifelong smoking is associated with the shortening of life expectancy by more than 4 years after the age of 50, with the average loss of life from one cigarette calculated to be 11 minutes - equivalent to half an hour of TV watching, according to the authors' risk framework.  The researchers conclude that: “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 and obesity.”


J Lennert Veerman, Genevieve N Healy, Linda J Cobiac, Theo Vos, Elisabeth A H Winkler, Neville Owen, David W Dunstan.  “Television viewing time and reduced life expectancy: a life table analysis.”  Br J Sports Med, 15 August 2011.

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