How TV Impacts Your Health
Natalie Butler, RD, LD
Growing up, my parents had very strict rules about TV. We were not allowed to watch TV during the school week. Saturday mornings were special because we were allowed a max of 2 hours of TV time. Me and my 3 siblings would be so excited we would GLADLY wake up early to get our cartoon marathon started, ha! We went through periods where my parents would cover our TV with a blanket and say we were on a TV break for the week. This was met with a lot of whining and complaining but I look back fondly at those times now. I learned to find fun in the outdoors, play with friends, help with chores, and create my own adventures in the creek close to our house.
How TV Impacts Your Health by Natalie Butler, LD, RD
Now I definitely have my favorite TV shows. Downtown Abbey anyone?? I love to watch movies with my hubby and I get a little too excited when Master Chef comes on. However, more and more research shows that television and really all other sedentary screen time are significant contributors to the rising obesity and declining health of our nation. The case might be different if screen time was our only sedentary behavior, but with so many Americans having desk jobs and driving everywhere, instead of screen time helping us “relax” or “unwind” after a long day, it is hindering us from living our best life. Here is why it is important to limit your TV time and understand the relationship of TV and your health.
- Study participants at the University of Vermont who were forced to have their tv time cut in half burned 118 more calories everyday! That’s a difference of more than 10 pounds a year!
- For every hour of TV that you watch, you have just shortened your life by 22 minutes. For the tv viewer who watches 6 hours tv per day, that means you will die 5 years earlier. YIKES!
- Every 2 hours of daily TV raises your diabetes risk by 20% and your heart disease risk by 15%!
4. Research also shows when you are viewing the romanticized relationships on TV you become less happy with your own.
5. Men who watch 20 hours of tv per week (less than 3 hours per day) had a 44% reduction in sperm!
6. Watching TV before dozing off causes sleep deprivation because since the brain was engaged, it takes you longer to enter those deep sleep cycles. When you are sleep deprived you crave more sugar, fat and salt and have less willpower to turn down poor food choices. You are too tired to say no! And it is easier to rationalize why you deserve or need a particular food when you are exhausted. Lack of sleep is also related to depression and has been associated with increased risk for cancer. Nightly TV watching is apparently a very common behavior, as nearly 50% of Americans watch TV within 2 hours of going to sleep
7. Children who watch greater than 2 hours of TV per day have higher rates of obesity, irregular sleep and exhibit more behavioral problems. Also, children who have TV’s in their room get lower test scores. It just makes me happy to see kids playing outside, enjoying the fresh air, sunshine and being active. And that will certainly impact a child’s weight since they will be much more active.
8. In a 2012 study in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, children who watched TV after school were more likely to consume candy and sugary drinks on a daily basis and less likely to eat fruits and veggies! There’s a big culprit right there getting in the way of healthy eating! Anyone else been shocked by just HOW MANY food commercials come on during kid shows?
The average American watches 2.5 to 3 hours of TV daily. As much I love to multitask and fold laundry or stretch during shows, the majority of the time I am still just sitting when I watch TV. I hope this compels you as much as me to limit TV time for now on! And now I REALLY appreciate all those TV rules from my childhood. 🙂