Watching a bit too much television can be just, if not more hazardous to health as obesity or smoking, according to a new report from Australia.

“TV viewing time may be associated with a loss of life that is comparable to other major chronic disease risk factors such as physical inactivity and obesity,” the study says, as reported by Fox News.
Analyzing data from a study involving more than 11,000 people in Australia, combined with general population trends and death rates, experts from the University of Queensland, found being sedentary for long periods of time, increased the risk of dying earlier – Fox News reports.

Lead by Dr. J. Lennert Veerman, he concluded that every hour of television a person watches can reduce his or her life expectancy by almost 22 minutes – After the age of 25, six hours of daily viewing could cut a person’s lifespan by almost five years.

The findings “could” be compared to other risk factors such as smoking, as other studies show that one cigarette cuts 11 minutes off a lifespan, equal to about half an hour of TV watching.

Different experts caution that the study does not show that prolonged TV watching caused people to die sooner, only that there was an association between watching lots of TV and a shorter lifespan.

“As a rule, the more time we spend watching TV, the more time we spend eating mindlessly in front of the TV, and the less time we spend being physically active,” said Dr. David L. Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine. “More eating and less physical activity, in turn, mean greater risk for obesity, and the chronic diseases it tends to anticipate, notably diabetes, heart disease and cancer.”

The report was published in the Aug 15 online edition of the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

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