The study was also unusual in that it looked at people in post-adolescence and early adulthood, he added, and it also focused on a specific type of sedentary behavior, said Dr. Robert Scott III, assistant professor of internal medicine at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine and senior staff cardiologist at Scott & White in Temple, Texas.
The researchers looked at the TV watching and exercise habits of more than 5,600 men and women born in Britain in 1958. Initial measurements were taken in 1981, when the participants were 23 years of age, with additional follow-up done when they reached age 44.
The researchers unearthed three factors that, together, explained 57 percent of the risk difference between those who watched more TV and those who watched less.
One had to do with metabolism -- triglycerides, HDL ("good") cholesterol, body mass index, waist circumference and blood pressure -- which explained 28 percent of the variance.
The second was an inflammatory component including levels of (inflammation-linked) C-reactive protein, which explained 16 percent of variance. The third component involved total cholesterol and LDL ("bad") cholesterol, which explained 13 percent of the variance.
The associations remained evident even after adjusting for physical activity, the team found.
"It was still better if they exercised versus not exercising but the more you watched TV, even if you exercised, increased these risk factors," Scott said.
But it still comes back to the same bottom line people have been told before.
"Sitting in front of the TV for
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