Killer TV

Humankind has come up with some wonderful inventions over the millennia. At the same time it has come up with some duds as well. For instance there’s “fire – good” and then there’s “weapons of mass destruction – not so good”. There’s “language – wonderful” and “political speeches – terrible”; “the wheel – very good” and “suburban four wheel drives – bizarre”, “opposable thumbs – very handy” and “Masonic handshakes – creepy”. There is one particular invention though that is like your mad Aunt Daphne who on occasions looks quite lovely but at other times appears as though her make-up has been applied by a drunken chimp. We speak of course of television which at times can be very good (think any series written by Matt Weiner or a David Attenborough documentary) or it can be abominable (do we really need to mention “reality television” or “talent” shows that are all about the judges?). As it turns out though, even the most tightly scripted drama might be bad for you, very bad for you, even deadly, if you spend too much time watching it.

This was revealed in a new study that was aiming to evaluate the effects of different types of sedentary behaviour. The study examined television watching, computer use, and driving to see how they independently influence the risk of death from all causes. To do this they analysed behaviour of more than 13,000 people with an average age of 37 who were followed for an average of eight years.

The results indicated that people who watch three or more hours of television each day have double the risk of early death from all causes when compared to people who watch one hour or less of television a day. This did not hold true for driving or computer use so it is not just the sitting (although other research does show that sitting itself is bad for you) but it seems there is something about television watching, or at least the people who choose to do it, that is intrinsically unhealthy.

This is valuable news if you are watching too much TV and want to change your behaviour patterns but it is not such good news for electrical retailers. After all, who wants a “big, fat mega-screen of death” sitting in their lounge room?

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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