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Step away from TV, lower your risk of disease
Published on 5 Jul. 2011 12:32 AM IST
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No, it’s not that there is some sort of secret radio waves emitting from your flat screen, just that all those hours glued to the boob tube really can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and contribute to an early death.
A new study, published in the latest issue of JAMA, has found that watching two to three hours of television a day increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 20 percent, fatal or nonfatal cardiovascular disease by 15 percent, and dying early from any cause by 13 percent. That last statistic actually goes up the more television you watch per day.
According to the authors, who hail from the University of Southern Denmark and Harvard School of Public Health, “While the associations between time spent viewing TV and risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease were linear, the risk of all-cause mortality appeared to increase with TV viewing duration of greater than 3 hours per day.”
It’s not so much the shows themselves, but the lack of activity and increased food consumption that comes with television viewing. Watching TV is by nature a sedentary activity, leading to lack of muscle tone and weight gain. People who spend large amounts of time have been shown to eat more fried foods, sweetened beverages, and generally less health foods (such as fruit and vegetables), which also helps to pack on the pounds and alter cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Both sedentary activities and poor food habits are contributing factors to metabolic syndrome, which is characterized by a cluster of at least three of the following cardiovascular risk factors: obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and low levels of “good” HDL cholesterol. Both cardiovascular disease and diabetes can be the result of metabolic syndrome.
Go ahead, watch your favorite sitcom, maybe catch a bit of the news, or watch a baseball game, just don’t make it a habit. You’ll not only be doing your health a favor, you will have time to read the newest bestseller, take a walk with a friend, or……clean out the garage.

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