TV Viewing Reduces Life Expectancy in Australian Adults

Life expectancy reduced by average of 21.8 minutes for every hour of TV viewed after age 25

THURSDAY, Aug. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Television (TV) viewing time is correlated with a substantial reduction in life expectancy among Australian adults, according to a study published online Aug. 15 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

J. Lennert Veerman, from the University of Queensland in Herston, Australia, and colleagues estimated the extent to which the amount of TV viewed in 2008 reduced life expectancy in Australia. They constructed a life table model using previous findings of the relationship between TV viewing time and mortality in Australia in 2008. Data were collected from a survey of the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study (AusDiab) (started in 1999 to 2000). The impact of changes in population average TV viewing time on life expectancy at birth was estimated.

The investigators found that the amount of TV viewed in 2008 reduced the life expectancy at birth for Australian men and women by 1.8 and 1.5 years, respectively. Life expectancy was reduced by 4.8 years in individuals who spent a lifetime average of six hours/day viewing TV, compared to those who did not watch television. After 25 years of age, every single hour of TV viewing reduces viewer's life expectancy by an average of 21.8 minutes. The low precision of currently known relationship between TV viewing time and mortality limits the results of this study.

"Though the current evidence base does not permit precise estimates, this life table analysis shows that TV viewing is associated with losses of life expectancy that may be comparable in size to those related to physical inactivity and obesity," the authors write.

The AusDiab Study was funded by several pharmaceutical companies.

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