By Martha Funnell, MS, RN, CDE
The next time you are watching your favorite police drama on TV, ask yourself who is the victim? According to a recent study, it may be you.
TV and Your Health
The link with television viewing and health is getting a lot of attention lately, in part because of the growing problem of obesity and type 2 diabetes among adults and children in the United States. A recent report combining many of the best and newest studies on this topic, showed a very strong link between the amount of time spent watching TV and type 2 diabetes, heart disease and death.
When they looked at studies of more than 175,000 adults with type 2 diabetes, they found that the risks for heart disease and death increased significantly for every two hours spent watching TV per day. Among people without diabetes, the risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease and death increased significantly with TV viewing of more than three hours per day. Other studies have shown the risk for obesity in children and teens is also linked to time spent watching TV. Almost ¾ of U.S. children and teens (ages 8 to 18) have a TV in their bedroom. They are also more likely to interact less with their families and friends, sleep less and have more difficulty in school.
Of course, your television does not cause these problems. But watching TV is a sedentary activity. We don’t even have to get up to change the channel. Most of us settle into a comfortable chair with the remote and only get up to go to the kitchen. TV viewing has been linked to eating more fried foods, processed meat and sugary drinks and eating fewer vegetables, fruits and whole grains. People who smoke tend to do so while watching TV. Although you may sit for long periods of time at a computer or work, it is harder to eat and smoke when your hands and mind are busy.
So while your TV may not be killing you, it is probably not helping you reach your goal of managing your diabetes well.