Skip to main content

A new report, published by The British Journal of Sports Medicine, found that every hour of watching television — after the age of 25 — shortens the viewer’s life expectancy by 22 minutes.

Adults who watch six hours a day may be cutting almost five years off their lives — almost as much as if they were lifelong smokers, the study by Australian researchers found.

If the material in the study is fully confirmed and shows “a causal association, TV viewing is a public health problem comparable in size to established behavioral risk factors,” the researchers wrote.

The main problem with television watching, the research found, is its sedentary nature. People watch TV while sitting. Few tend to watch TV while doing exercise. The data was adjusted to reflect differences in the subjects’ age, waist circumference, alcohol intake and other factors.

The research claims that a sedentary lifestyle is as bad for health as smoking and obesity because of the dangers posed by inactivity and the greater opportunities it offers for unhealthy eating. It involved more than 11,000 people over the age of 25.

In the U.S., the average amount of time spent watching TV is five hours a day compared with four hours in the UK. Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, said it was “biologically plausible” that prolonged TV viewing results in disease and premature death.

Earlier this year, a separate study suggested the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease, or dying prematurely, rises by as much as 20 percent after just two hours a day in front of the TV.