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Adults who Watch too much TV have a greater risk of Dying Early

Update Date: Jun 25, 2014 04:04 PM EDT
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Even though watching television can be entertaining and relaxing, it can also be time consuming. People who watch a lot of TV tend to be more sedentary, which can be detrimental for overall health. In a new study, researchers examined the link between excessive TV watching and risk of early death in adults. They found that people who watched more than three hours of TV were two times more likely to die prematurely than people who watched less TV.

"Television viewing is a major sedentary behavior and there is an increasing trend toward all types of sedentary behaviors," said Miguel Martinez-Gonzalez, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., the study's lead author and professor and chair of the Department of Public Health at the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain. "Our findings are consistent with a range of previous studies where time spent watching television was linked to mortality."

For this study, Martinez-Gonzalez and his colleagues examined 13,284 healthy Spanish students who had an average age of 37. 60 percent of the sample consisted of women. The researchers tracked the participants' TV time, computer time and driving time for a median of 8.2 years. There were 97 deaths in total. 19 were tied to heart disease, 46 from cancer and 32 from other health complications.

When the team compared the times spent being sedentary, they found that people who watched more than three hours of TV per day had doubled the risk of early death in comparison to people who watched TV for an hour or less per day. Even though spending time in front of a computer or behind a wheel is also sedentary, the researchers did not find a link between these behaviors and premature death rate.

"As the population ages, sedentary behaviors will become more prevalent, especially watching television, and this poses an additional burden on the increased health problems related to aging," Martinez-Gonzalez said in the press release. "Our findings suggest adults may consider increasing their physical activity, avoid long sedentary periods, and reduce television watching to no longer than one to two hours each day."

The researchers stated that even though they did not find a cause and effect relationship, people should be aware of this strong correlation. The study was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

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