Is Your TV Killing You?

According to Diabetes & You, Holiday 2011/Winter 2012 Issue:

  • Kids 2 to 5 spend 32 hours a week watching TV
  • Kids 6 to 11 spend 28 hours a week watching TV
  • Adults spend 35 hours a week watching TV

There is a strong link between time spent watching TV and Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and death.

In adults with type 2 diabetes, the risk increased significantly for every two hours spent watching TV per day.

Among those without diabetes, heart disease and death increased significantly with TV viewing of more than three hours per day.

Risk for obesity in children and teens is also linked to time spent watching TV.  Almost 3/4 of U.S. children have a television in their bedroom.  They are more likely to interact less with their families and friends, sleep less and have more difficulty in school.

TV viewing has been linked to eating more fried foods, processed meat and sugary drinks and eating less vegetables, fruits and whole grains.

I wonder what the combination of TV viewing, video games, and computers are doing to our youth?  Throw cell phones and texting in there, too…they all promote sedentary activity, and also seem to me to promote the idea that communication with others, even strangers, is more important than family and friends.

We’ve all heard studies that link gaming and tv watching with violent, even sociopathic behavior.

Do our kids ever relax and enjoy a moment, or are they so often “on” with various activities and multitasking they don’t have a chance to just be, imagine, connect?  Can real life and slower based connections with people even compare to almost ‘hyper’ level of activity found in the various media today?

I’ve had kids tell me they like gaming because they don’t have to think.  I’ve had teenagers tell me they like drugs because they can’t feel relaxed otherwise.

I can’t imagine some of these kids ever have a chance to be at peace with themselves, or with the world.

Suggestions given:

First of all, they said simply unplug the TV or cancel your cable subscription, but then went on to say that is not realistic for most of us.  (My comment on this:  I see, so often, comments like this – a realistic view of what is wrong, a logical conclusion, and then reasons why we can’t do what everything is pointing toward, with compromises that don’t necessarily address the issues, and half hearted “solutions.”)

They went on to say:

  • Walk around during every commercial and between programs.
  • Watch programs you really want to see.
  • Use TV for exercise
  • Turn off the TV while eating
  • Plan activities with your kids instead of watching TV.

All good ideas, but NOT enough, in my opinion.  For years, it’s been said no more than one hour a day, on average, of TV viewing is the recommended goal.  There was no mention of that in this article.  I was a little disenchanted to learn that TV viewing was at such a high, even though we’ve known how damaging it can be since the ’70’s.

What do you do as a family to limit or set guidelines around TV?  Does having this information help you to think about doing so it you’re not already?



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