Television Kills

Study finds that too much screen-based enterainment, regardless of how much you exercise, is detrimental to heart health

(RxWiki News) You already know that exercise improves your heart health, but apparently the amount you exercise might not matter if you are spending too much of your day watching television.

According to a new study, which appears in the January 18, 2011 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, those who spend more than 4 hours per day behind a screen (whether it be a TV, computer, or video games) are more than twice as likely to be hospitalized or die as a result of a major cardiac event compared to those who spend less than 2 hours per day behind a screen.

As the amount of screen-based entertainment and distractions increase, this finding should be of concern. Heart disease, which was responsible for 631,636 deaths in 2006, is already the leading cause of death in the United States, affecting both men and women equally.

Emmanuel Stamatakis, Ph.D., M.Sc., from the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London, and colleagues found that those who spend at least 4 hours a day on screen-based entertainment increase their risk of mortality by 48 percent compared to those who spend less than 2 hours on the same activity. Furthermore, those who spend as much as 2 hours or more a day behind a screen increase their risk of cardiovascular events by about 125 percent. These risk factors hold true independent of other widely known considerations such as exercise, smoking, BMI, and hypertension.

Dr. Stamatakis acknowledges that it is easy to fall into the habit of getting home from work and plopping in front of the TV. Nevertheless, it is an unhealthy habit with risks that, according to the research so far, cannot be reduced by exercise. Stamatakis recommends public policy that offers guidelines on how to limit sitting activities and increase physical activity.

Review Date: 
January 10, 2011