Boob Tube Report

by Heather Ferber on June 26, 2011

To several of my friends who are doing their “Couch to 5K” program -way to go!  You are definitely taking a step in the right direction of getting on the road to better health.

It’s not exactly earth shattering news that the couch potato lifestyle is hazardous to your health.  A study published June 15 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) illustrates just how self-destructive boob tube watching behavior can be. A research team from the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Southern Denmark analyzed the data from eight studies that included more than 175,000 individuals and found that watching TV for two hours a day raised the risk of type 2 diabetes by 20 percent over 8.5 years; the risk of heart disease by 15 percent over a decade; and the risk of dying, from any cause, by 13 percent during a seven-year follow up period.   The big kicker is that the average American does not watch 2 hours of TV/day but rather FIVE hours/day!  YIKES!

According to the authors, the TV itself isn’t directly to blame. They theorize that time spent planted on the couch is associated with poor eating habits – too much junk food at the expense of fresh fruits and vegetables .  In the study,  even adults who exercised, but also watched the most television, were still at higher risk of dying.  So exercise alone may not help you if your eating habits are horrible.

My thoughts? Well, I’m glad I don’t have time to watch TV.  It may save me from dying prematurely.  However,  I definitely understand the need to unwind after a long day of work or parenting.  Truly, I do enjoy a couple of my favorite TV shows, as you should too, but I recommend balancing your TV with healthy snacking, exercise, and relaxation techniques.  Then there’s the issue of eating while watching TV: many people munch habitually and without conscious thought, swallowing food without really tasting it. One consequence of this practice is overeating. Who has not mindlessly shoveled in handfuls of popcorn or chips while watching a movie or staring at a television screen? I know I’ve done it! Why not sit down and shovel in bowls of veges mindlessly?!  You get the idea.

Truly, like so many other tings in life, some television is ok. But next time you flop down on the couch to vege….think about the veges!

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