Too Much TV Tied to Higher Risk for Early Death

Heavy television viewers had higher risk of death from all causes

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Watching TV may be entertaining, but for many, it also may involve some unhealthy habits — specifically, sitting and snacking. As such, watching too much TV could have serious consequences for people's health.

Researchers recently found that adults who watched more than three hours of TV per day had a higher risk of an early death than those who watched less TV.

The authors of this study concluded that this sedentary habit poses a significant threat to health.

"Limit your television viewing time."

Miguel Angel Martinez-Gonzalez, MD, MPH, PhD, of the Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health at the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain, led this study.

Dr. Martinez-Gonzalez and colleagues examined how certain sedentary behaviors, or behaviors that do not require much physical movement or activity, affected rates of death.

Adults in the United States spend more than half of their waking hours sedentary, often watching television, using a computer or driving, according to the authors of this study.

This study included 13,284 Spanish university graduates who were, on average, 37 years old. The researchers followed up with the participants for about eight years.

Using a questionnaire, the researchers assessed how long the participants spent watching TV, using a computer or driving on both weekdays and weekends.

The baseline questionnaire also included questions about medical history, lifestyle and other measures of health.

When they followed up with the participants, the researchers noted whether any had died from any cause.

Over the course of the study, 97 participants died. Of those participants, 46 died of cancer, 19 died of cardiovascular issues and 32 died from other causes.

The researchers found that the participants spent an average of 1.6 hours per day watching TV, 2.1 hours per day using computers and 0.9 hours per day driving.

The participants who watched more television were more likely to die during the study.

Those who watched more than three hours of television per day were twice as likely to die than those who watched less than one hour per day.

For each additional two hours of television watched per day, the risk of death increased by 1.4 times.

Computer use and driving time was not associated with a higher risk of death.

The authors of this study noted that because snacking often accompanies television viewing, those foods might play a role in the risk of death.

These authors concluded that sedentary behaviors like television watching should be limited.

This study was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association on June 25.

The research was supported by grants from the Spanish government and the University of Navarra. The researchers disclosed no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
June 25, 2014
Last Updated:
June 26, 2014