Oh Really?

August 7, 2008 by  
Filed under Health, Medical Research & Studies

This week’s winner in the ‘how did they get money to research that’ contest comes from a recent study, which appeared in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. I know you are going to struggle to believe this, but apparently watching too much TV is associated with poor health, in particular, lack of weight loss and an increased risk of excess weight/obesity. Oh really? The researchers looked at a group of young adults aged 26-36 and assessed them for waist size, TV viewing time, amount of food and drink consumed during TV viewing, and physical activity levels during leisure time.

I want to help you here, so be aware that if you want to reduce your waistline, then reduce your tv hours first. Apparently, women who watched 3 or more hours a day had an 89% increased risk of severe obesity compared to those watching 1 hour of TV a day or less. Unfairly, it seems to me, men get off more lightly – but that is still no excuse for hanging on to the remote. Men watching 3 or more hours of TV a day were more than twice as likely to have moderate obesity compared to those watching 1 hour of TV a day or less.

You might have thought this would be offset by what people did in their spare time, but it seems not to have been the case. Whether you rollerblade or sit and watch the world go by is not particularly influential when compared to how much tv you watch. There is also the fact that watching tv is also associated with snacking, not generally on carrot and celery sticks, so that could also be a factor. TV turns the mind off, which turns off the mind/body connection and the internal desire to eat healthy food, and someone who watches a lot of television is more likely to be influenced by advertisements, which generally encourage you to eat more of the sweets/crisps/chocolates rather than healthier options.

Update on teenagers

Do you remember in a recent article, (yet another ‘would you believe it’), I reported on the ‘news’ that teenagers who lounge about watching television and undertake very little physical activity probably developed the habit when they were younger? Well I have an update on those teenage couch potatoes, this time from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. Apparently, the common practice of putting a TV in your teenager’s bedroom actually increases the amount of television they watch.

Would you believe it? Their study, to be published in the May issue of Pediatrics Journal, was of nearly 800 teenagers and revealed that twice as many 15-18 year-olds who had a TV in their bedrooms said they watched at least five hours of TV a day, compared with those who did not have a television in their bedroom at all. And they are more likely to have unsatisfactory eating and study habits – and a tendency to weight gain and hypertension.A previous study found that having a television in the bedroom is a stronger predictor of obesity than the amount of time spent actually watching it. Perhaps it beams out fat rays, even when switched off – wonder if Dr Who would be interested in that as a storyline?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents refrain from putting a television in a child’s room. But despite the recommendation, about two-thirds of children ages eight to 18 have a television in their bedroom, the study found, and good luck to any parent who tries to remove it is what I say.