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Life Expectancy

Watch 6 Hours of TV Per Day? Expect to Die 5 Years Earlier

posted 02:46 AM EST, Wed August 17, 2011
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OK, so we all know that spending a lot of time each day staring at a TV set is hardly conducive to excellent health, but just how bad is that couch potato lifestyle when it comes to affecting life expectancy?

That’s what researchers at The University of Queensland in Australia wanted to know, and to find out they used data from the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study which has been running since 1999, and looked at how TV viewing habits affected mortality rates.

They found that:

  • On average, compared to people who watched no TV, every hour of TV watched after the age of 25 took 22 minutes of a lifespan
  • People who watch 6 hours of TV a day can expect to live roughly 5 years less than people who watch no TV
  • In Australia, the amount of TV watched by the average person shortens life by 1.8 years for  men and 1.5 years for women

The study authors write that given the results of the study, TV viewing should be added to other known risk factors for premature death, like obesity and a sedentary lifestyle.

Commenting on the significance of the study, lead author Dr Lennert Veerman, talked about how prevalent TV watching is in our current society, saying, “While smoking rates are declining, watching TV is not, which has implications at a population level.”

Previous studies have shown that watching just 2 hours of TV a day increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 20% and heart disease by 15%.

The full study results can be read in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

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Story Highlights
  • Life Expectancy: Every hour of TV you watch after the age of 25 reduces your life expectancy by 22 minutes
  • Diabetes: Watching more than 2 hours a day raises diabetes risk by 20%
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