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TV Watching Increases Waistlines and Blood Pressure

November 26, 2010 | 34,732 views

watching TVA new study suggests that time in front of the television may be partially to blame for weight gain, high blood pressure, and heart disease risk.

The study looked at close to 4,000 individuals, divided into two groups -- those whose TV-watching increased over five years and those whose TV-watching remained the same. The researchers then examined the two groups for symptoms of metabolic syndrome.

FYI Living reports:

"The results showed that an increase in TV-watching does have an unhealthy effect.

For both men and women, people who increased their TV viewing similarly increased their waistlines. Meanwhile, women who watched more TV also developed higher blood pressure than women who watched the same amount as before.

Interestingly, these factors were not affected by exercise".

 

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

There's actually no shortage of studies linking excessive TV watching with a variety of health ailments, particularly weight gain, high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, and heart disease.

This is no great surprise, considering that the more time you spend watching TV, the less time you're engaging in more physical activities, such as exercising, which is the remedy for all of the ailments just mentioned.

It is very important to keep a handle on this aspect of your life. I am absolutely convinced that television watching is a major contributing factor to many of our most common health problems, both physical and emotional.

Watching TV will take away from not only your exercise time, but from reading and maintaining meaningful relationships as well.

In addition to the health problems related to excessive TV watching, research has also shown that watching TV has a major impact on your brain chemistry.

The longer you watch the TV screen, the easier your brain slips into a receptive, passive mode, meaning that messages are streamed into your brain without any participation from you. This is an advertiser's dream, and the vast majority of TV advertisements promote foods, drugs, health options and lifestyles that are not in your and your family's best interest…

Researchers have also shown that TV can have a devastating impact on children's psychological health, as discussed in this recent article.

I firmly believe putting strict limits on the amount of time you spend in front of the TV every day could have a significantly positive impact on your health, mood, and overall well-being.

How TV Watching Harms Your Health

A number of studies have shown that the more time you spend watching TV, the more likely you are to develop metabolic syndrome, which is characterized by overweight, elevated insulin levels and hypertension (high blood pressure).

This holds true both for children and adults, and it's nothing new.

More than 20 years ago, a study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, along with experts at the CDC and the National Institutes of Health, concluded that a child's weight increases with the number of hours he or she spends watching television each day.

Still, two decades later, the problem has only gotten worse.

When was the last time your doctor discussed your TV habits with you?

In the study above, published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, the goal was to determine whether or not symptoms of metabolic syndrome worsen if you increase the amount of time you spend watching TV over a five-year period.

The answer is yes, it does. FYI Living reports:

"They divided the people into two groups: those whose TV-watching increased over five years and those whose TV-watching remained the same.

The symptoms of metabolic syndrome were then compared between the groups. The results showed that an increase in TV-watching does have an unhealthy effect.

For both men and women, people who increased their TV viewing similarly increased their waistlines.

Meanwhile, women who watched more TV also developed higher blood pressure than women who watched the same amount as before."

Interestingly, exercising did NOT counteract the effects of increased TV watching. What that means is, if you want to address your metabolic syndrome, reducing time in front of the TV could make or break your success. If you spend increasingly more time watching TV, then adding an exercise routine likely won't make up for the damage incurred from these longer stretches on the couch.

Adding to the evidence that exercise can't make up for lost time in front of the TV is a study published ten years ago, which found that:

"Watching TV only one hour per day in women with a BMI of 30 kg/m2 and doing about 75 minutes of moderate exercise per week was associated with a BMI 1.8 kg/m2 lower than in women watching TV three hours per day and doing the same amount of exercise.

 Those with twice the amount of moderate exercise and watching TV one hour per day had a BMI 0.45 kg/m2 lower."

Another Australian study published in 2005 in the journal Diabetologia also found that watching more than 14 hours of TV per week was associated with an increased risk of insulin resistance, obesity and high choleserol in both men and women.

Meanwhile, both men and women who engaged in at least 2.5 hours of physical activity per week had a reduced prevalence of both insulin resistance and high choleserol. Women also had a reduced risk of obesity and hypertension at this amount of weekly exercise.

How to Successfully Address Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome (which used to be called Syndrome X) is oftentimes also referred to as pre-diabetes, which is characterized by insulin resistance and can easily develop into full-blown diabetes if not properly treated.

So, you would address metabolic syndrome the same way you address insulin resistance and diabetes. The prescription is the same: get out there and exercise, and chose foods appropriate for your nutritional type, being very careful to avoid foods that increase your insulin, namely grains and sugars, and of course, processed foods.


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