Your mom was right. Watching TV is killing you, albeit indirectly. A new study found an association between people watching loads of TV and living shorter lives. So, it’s one of those correlation/causation dealios. Even still, the results were disturbing. By tracking death rates and lifestyle survey responses, the study found that for people over 25, for every hour of TV watched, their lifespan shortened by 22 minutes.
From the abstract of the study, “Television viewing time and reduced life expectancy: a life table analysis,” published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine:
Methods: The authors constructed a life table model that incorporates a previously reported mortality risk associated with TV time. Data were from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study, a national population-based observational survey that started in 1999-2000. The authors modelled impacts of changes in population average TV viewing time on life expectancy at birth.
Results: The amount of TV viewed in Australia in 2008 reduced life expectancy at birth by 1.8 years (95% uncertainty interval (UI): 8.4 days to 3.7 years) for men and 1.5 years (95% UI: 6.8 days to 3.1 years) for women. Compared with persons who watch no TV, those who spend a lifetime average of 6 h/day watching TV can expect to live 4.8 years (95% UI: 11 days to 10.4 years) less. On average, every single hour of TV viewed after the age of 25 reduces the viewer’s life expectancy by 21.8 (95% UI: 0.3-44.7) min. This study is limited by the low precision with which the relationship between TV viewing time and mortality is currently known.
The study’s authors concluded that watching TV is in the same boat for other life-shortening activities like lack of exercise and obesity. So go outside!
Television viewing time and reduced life expectancy: a life table analysis [British Journal of Sports Medicine]