The Link Between Television and Obesity
The average Americans watches about four hours of television each day and, because technology is such a wonder, never even has to leave the sofa anymore. The advent of remotes relieves us all of that long and arduous walk from the couch to the television where channels were once changed manually.
Good thing too, given the extreme number of channels introduced to us by cable. We can now remain comfortably seated in our favorite oversized chair, click the remote until the food channel appears, and eat potato chips and doughnuts to our heart’s content.
Why, it’s perfect…except for the fact that watching television burns less calories than almost all other activities... and as a society we are becoming obese at an alarming rate.
The Effects of Television on Weight Gain
Television provides the background noise in the standard household for about seven hours each day. Those who watch television for more than three hours each day are twice as likely to become obese as those who watch television less than one hour each day.
Increased television viewing also translates into increased snacking. The American Journal of Health Behavior states there is a link between the amount of time an adult watches television per day and obesity.
The news regarding children and weight gain as an effect of watching television is alarming.
Children watch television for an average of three hours per day and view 40,000 commercials, thereby creating brand loyalties by as young as two years old. The risk for obesity increases by 7% for every hour spent watching television on weekends at age five, and children who watch more than two hours of television per day on the weekends are more likely to become obese as adults. Most disturbing is the point that 14% of young people state they get no physical activity at all.
How Television Promotes Obesity
Food commercials are highly influential. One of the ways in which overexposure to televison promotes obesity is through advertising. There are a great number of commercials promoting food and beverages that are not particularly healthy for a person. Such commercials are found to be so influential that companies are regulated during election season. In addition, they are also regulated regarding advertisements that can be shown during children’s programming.
People eat more when watching television. Television becomes a distraction, and people tend to unknowing overindulge. In a study of female undergraduate students, it was found that the students ate the equivalent of one extra meal on those days when dined while watching television.
It has also been discovered that these poor eating habits extend beyond the time spent in front of the television and that people tend to eat more during the meals that follow viewing time.
Addressing the Problem
Suggestions to break the habit of eating while watching television are straightforward and simple. The first is watch less television. Recommended viewing time is just over one hour per day. A brisk daily walk of thirty minutes is also recommended. Removing televisions from the bedroom and kitchen are advised.