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Too Much TV Raises Risk of Diabetes, Heart Disease and Death
Date:6/15/2011

By Maureen Salamon
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, June 14 (HealthDay News) -- Couch potatoes beware: All those hours in front of the TV may be making you sick, or even killing you.

Watching television for two to three hours or more per day is linked to significantly higher risks of developing diabetes and heart disease and dying from all causes, according to a new analysis from the Harvard School of Public Health.

Noting that Americans watch an average of about five hours of TV per day -- the most common daily activity aside from working and sleeping -- researchers analyzed data from eight studies done between 1970 and 2011 on the association between TV viewing and incidence of type 2 diabetes, fatal or nonfatal cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality.

Two hours of daily television watching was tied to a 20 percent greater risk for diabetes, a 15 percent higher chance of cardiovascular disease and a 13 percent elevated risk for all-cause deaths, according to the new Harvard meta-analysis, a type of research that pools data from different studies on an issue and analyzes them to look for statistical trends.

The findings are published June 15 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"The results really are not surprising at all. We already know that people who watch a lot of TV are more likely to eat an unhealthy diet and be obese," said senior study author Dr. Frank B. Hu, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology. "The message is actually quite simple . . . those who watch a lot of TV should cut back on TV watching and do more of something else."

Americans are hardly extraordinary in being glued to the tube. Hu pointed out that many people around the world structure their days in a similar fashion, with Europeans and Australians respectively spending an average of 40 percent and 50 percent of their daily free time watching television.

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