If you haven’t done so already, pop over to Obesity Panacea instantly and read Travis Saunders’s fascinating post, “How does TV watching increase health risk?” The question has tremendous public health relevance, naturally, but also more than a little pertinence to me personally because my Emmy-award winning video-editor wife and I watch a lot of television.
How much? Let’s get some perspective. Look at these statistics from the Nielsen Company’s 2009 Three Screen Report, which looks at how much video Americans consume via TV, the Internet and mobile devices (emphasis added; link in original):
The recent results of Nielsen’s Three Screen Report – a quarterly analysis from Nielsen’s Anywhere Anytime Media Measurement initiative (A2/M2) – show that the average American watches approximately 153 hours of TV every month at home, a 1.2% increase from last year. In addition, the 131 million Americans who watch video on the Internet watch on average about 3 hours of video online each month at home and work. The 13.4 million Americans who watch video on mobile phones watch on average about 3 ½ hours of mobile video each month.
At 153 hours a month, the average citizen is therefore watching about 5 hours of TV per day. Impressed? I say you people are pikers. Jennifer and I have mornings when we watch more than 5 hours of TV. Let’s just leave it at that.
Now, we are reasonably active people who exercise hard on a regular basis, but that might offer less health benefit than we would want, Travis warns in this crucial summary (emphasis and link in original):
What’s the take-home message?
Although it’s impact on food intake is very important, TV watching (like all forms of sedentary behaviour) is also likely to result in rapid changes in skeletal muscle function, causing dramatic increases in metabolic risk, even for lean or otherwise physically active individuals. The good news? Animal research suggests that simply walking at a leisurely pace may be enough to rapidly return these metabolic risk factors to normal levels.
I can only conclude that our swell dog, Newman, who compels us to take him on lengthy walks several times a day, is doing everything he can to save our lives. Good dog!