Quotes below taken from USA Today June 25 report Study: Watching too much TV could lead to early death. See the full report for a link to more information on "sitting disease."
There are factors that don't arise from TV watching per se; for example, many people who watch TV for prolonged periods are lonely and quite isolated from human relationships. But certainly the findings from this latest research, which was conducted over a period of years, are alarming.
In particular children and young people need to be taught activities that keep their muscles active during their TV watching time, and parents who routinely use TV as a baby-sitter need to stop doing this.
We need a culture adjustment and fast. It makes no sense to throw billions of dollars into health care while at the same time promoting a culture that is guaranteed to lead to a host of serious, chronic illnesses and early death. And with our television watching habits, we are literally entertaining ourselves to death. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.
[...] A new report published in the Journal of the American Heart Association studied more than 13,000 Spanish university graduates for about eight years to determine the association between sedentary behaviors and risk of death. The study focused on television viewing time, time spent on the computer and time spent driving.
"Television viewing is a major sedentary behavior, and there is an increasing trend toward all types of sedentary behaviors," said Miguel Martinez-Gonzalez, the study's lead author and professor at the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain.
Over the course of the study, there were 97 deaths, 19 from cardiovascular causes, 46 from cancer and 32 from other causes. The study found a correlation to television watching time but found no significant association with computer or driving time.
Martinez-Gonzalez's study builds on other studies about "sitting disease," which found that sitting for more than six hours a day can be a risk factor for early death. Previous research suggests that half of U.S. adults are leading sedentary lives, the study said.
The television-watching study was started about 15 years ago and did not take into account new television-watching habits or smartphone use. Martinez-Gonzalez said that if he were to do this study now, he would ask participants to differentiate between using computers for work and entertainment. Martinez-Gonzalez said this is an important distinction, because when using computers or driving, the brain is more active.
"When you're watching television, you're completely relaxed, spending no energy, and there's no tension in your muscles," Martinez-Gonzalez said. "If you're driving or using a computer for working, you are stressed."
"Watching television is a passive, sedentary activity, and certainly people who do it for hours are not paying attention in terms of their lifestyle and in terms of their diet," said American Heart Association cardiologist Nisa Goldberg.
[Goldberg also noted]: A sedentary lifestyle is often associated with diabetes or heart disease. When a person is sedentary for too long, the blood vessels can stiffen and cause a buildup of cholesterol in the arteries. These are the building blocks of heart disease.