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TV can kill, just like smoking



Every hour spent watching television shortens your life by a little over 20 minutes – on a par with smoking a cigarette, Australian researchers claim.

And the worst couch potatoes – watching more than six hours of TV a day – can expect to die almost five years earlier than people who watch no TV at all, researchers calculated.

Writing in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (online), the Brisbane-led group say Australia’s love of TV poses a significant threat to the health of the population.

They point out a burgeoning body of research linking sedentary time to cardiovascular disease mortality, but say theirs is the first study to quantify the impact on life expectancy.

“Australians aged 25 and older watched a total of 9.8 billion hours of TV in 2008. Our estimates indicate these hours of TV viewing were associated with a loss of 286,000 life years for the Australian population in 2008, assuming a stationary population with no [change in] trends in life expectancy or TV viewing time,” said Dr Lennert Veerman, of the University of Queensland’s School of Population Health, and colleagues.

“TV viewing time may have adverse health consequences that rival those of lack of physical activity, obesity and smoking; every single hour of TV viewed may shorten life by as much as 22 min.”

The calculations are based on data from the ongoing Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle (AusDiab) Study, which began in 1999, and from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

If the findings are borne out by future research, there could be a public health case for proactively cracking down on time spent watching TV, the researchers said.

www.itsmyhealth.com.au