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11 health hazards of watching TV

Last updated on: September 20, 2011 17:52 IST

11 health hazards of watching TV

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Manasi Chaudhari, Lifemojo.com

What can be your favourite pastime when you think of unwinding? What do you do when you are alone at home? You spend hours in front of your television set. Right? And you think that the TV shows are giving you quality time and a healthy company!

In reality, television viewing is always considered to be bad for your health. You cannot accept this fact readily, but watching TV for a long time can put your health at risk.

It is accepted that you can gain a lot of knowledge from a few television shows, but still the disadvantages outweigh these benefits with a big margin! TV serves as a medium of entertainment and education for all, but it is associated with a number of physical and mental health problems such as:

1. Increase in the risk of heart diseases

Based on the analysis of the data collected over a period of six years from 8,800 Australian men and women (over age 25 with no history of heart disease), researchers found that every hour of TV watching increased a person's risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by 18 per cent, and increased the risk of death from cancer by 9 per cent.

This means that people who watched more than four hours of TV had an 80 per cent increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease over the 6-year time period as compared to people who watched two hours or less each day. The problem normally crops up from a sedentary lifestyle which television offers to you.

According to researchers, the human body evolved to move, not sit still for extended periods of time. So sitting in front of a TV or a computer screen for too long poses serious risks to health, and to life.

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LifeMojo is one of the most trusted source of information about good health and wellness. To those who want to manage their health themselves, LifeMojo provides necessary information, tips, tracking tools and support to help them stay informed and motivated.



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2. Disruption of sleep

The light emitted from the television can prove to be too stimulating to our systems. This can reduce the levels of the brain hormone melatonin, which usually increase in the evening as light levels fall. 

This may effect the body's natural rhythm, keeping you awake longer and results in irregular sleep and extreme fatigue. Reduced levels of melatonin have also been linked to early puberty in girls.

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3. Increase in the risk of diabetes

When it comes to controlling diabetes, TV watching habit can be included as the risk factor. A 2003 study of women published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that the risk of diabetes increases by 14 per cent for every two hours of television viewing in a day. 

Another study conducted in the same year and published in the journal lipids found that men who watched more than 40 hours of TV per week were three times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than men who watched TV less than one hour weekly. 

According to researchers, all this increased risk cannot be explained by the increased snacking and reduced activity linked with sitting in front of the television.

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4. Increase in the risk of obesity

Prolonged watching of television relates to an absence of muscle movement. If your muscles stay inactive for too long, it can disrupt your metabolism leading to weight gain. 

Additionally, when you are watching TV, you tend to eat more and eat unhealthy foods due to advertising and other food cues on TV. A study compared the television viewing habits of more than 50,000 women who participated in the Nurses' Health Study from 1992 to 1998, and found that weight gain increased as TV watching increased.

For each two-hour increase in television watching per day, there was a 23 per cent rise in obesity.

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5. Development of attention deficit disorder

In the 1970s, a Professor named Werner Halperin suggested that the rapid changes of sounds and images on TV may affect the neurological system of a young child and can cause attention problems. 

Also, a study conducted by researchers at the University of Washington Child Health Institute found that 3-year-old child who watches two hours of TV per day is 20 per cent more likely to have attention problems at age 7 than a child who watches no television.

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6. Increase in the risk of asthma

In the UK, a research studied the TV viewing habits of more than 3,000 children ranging in age from infants to 11 years. 

The results of the study established that children who spent two hours or more watching television per day had twice the risk of suffering from asthma.

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7. Greater chances of mindless eating

Studies conducted by the Stanford University of Medicine prove that TV viewing is directly linked with mindless eating. You have more chances of eating junk foods while watching TV than in any other activity! 

It really feels very nice to enjoy burgers, pizzas and French Fries while watching your favourite shows.

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8. Negative effect on the mental development

Watching TV for a prolonged period of time has a negative effect on the intellectual development of children. The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages TV viewing for kids under two and recommends no more than two hours a day for older kids. 

Prolonged watching of TV can also lead to a deterioration of the mental processing power in case of older people.

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9. Increase in the eye strain

Watching too much television is bad for your eyes, especially when watching television in a dark room. Focusing your eyes too long on any one object can strain your eyes.

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10. Portrayal of aggressive behaviour

Young children are more likely to exhibit aggressive behavior after viewing violent TV shows or movies. As part of a study, researchers examined the data on more than 3,000 3-year-olds and found that children exposed to more television, directly and indirectly (exposed to the television while other people in the home are watching), are at increased risk for exhibiting aggressive behaviour.

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11. Reduction of social interaction

Watching television may replace social interaction with friends and family, depriving children of sharing ideas and feelings with others. This may result various social phobias.

It would be quite difficult for you to control your TV viewing habit. But once you are able to do it, you won't have any repentance. You would want to spend the weekend by relaxing and this might mean sitting on a sofa and watching TV for long hours. Instead, you can go out and spend quality time with your family -- a long drive and a family picnic are great options!



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