Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 23rd 2014 Contents Viewing a single McDonald s advertise-
ment won t necessarily make you want to
go out and get a burger, says Dan Ehlke,
an assistant professor of health policy and
management at SUNY Downstate Medical
Center in New York City, "but if you re sit-
ting in front of the TV for hours on end,
like many people do, the repetitiveness of
these ads has an effect on what people
want to buy or eat."
It s impossible to nail down exactly how
many hours of TV is OK to watch. While
five hours seems to make a big difference,
it varies by person, Ehlke says. "If you have
a person who s already eating healthy and
exercising, then that person can watch a
little more and not have the same health
drawbacks as someone who is already head-
ing toward obesity."
But it s important to remember that while
watching TV can seriously affect your
health, there s nothing inherently unhealthy
about binge-watching Breaking Bad, Rego
says. "It s not the show or movie," he says.
"It s the inactivity and unhealthy lifestyle
choices that come with the show."
For that reason, it s perfectly fine to watch
TV or go to a movie, says Rego, who admits
he s in front of his TV every Sunday night
for Game of Thrones.
But it s important that it s not your only
hobby. "Go outside, get some exercise and
then come home and watch some TV, he
says. Like everything, it s perfectly fine in
moderation." (US News & World Report)
body & soul
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Friday, May 23, 2014
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
News and Advice
After a long day at work, sometimes plopping
down in front of the TV is all you want to do. But
while watching a Seinfeld rerun for the 100th time
might help you de-stress, it might also be causing
irreparable damage to your health. Watching TV
has been linked to a multitude of health problems
and unhealthy lifestyle choices---and experts say
the younger you start watching, the worse they
TV viewing is a major contributor to the obesity
epidemic, chiefly because the more time you spend
in front of a screen, the less time you spend active,
says Carole Lieberman, a Los Angeles-based psy-
chiatrist who specialises in the psychological and
physical impact of TV, movies and other media.
"There s a reason why people who sit and watch
hours upon hours of TV are called couch potatoes,"
she says. "The more they sit and watch, the more
they grow into heavy potato-like blobs."
A 2003 study in the Journal of the American Med-
ical Association found that over six years, for every
two hours a day women spent watching TV, their
risk for obesity increased by 23 per cent---and the
effect is even larger in children. Children spend an
average of seven-and-a-half hours per day looking
at a screen, and according to a 2011 study in the
journal Elsevier, those who watch more than five
hours per day are more than twice as likely to be
obese as those who watch two hours or fewer.
The lack of activity also ups your risk for diabetes
and cardiovascular disease, according to a 2011 JAMA
study, which found that for every two hours of TV
you watch, your risk of diabetes increases by 20 per
cent, and your risk of cardiovascular disease increases
by 15 per cent.
Many people don t realise that the hours you
spend inactive really add up, Lieberman says. "It s
bad enough that many of us spend our workdays
sitting in front of a computer, but compounding it
by sitting in front of TV or in movie theatres just
adds insult to injury."
Five hours of watching TV appears to be the break
point, especially when it comes to teen smoking. A
2002 study published in the journal Pediatrics found
that 10- to 15-year olds who watch five hours or
more of TV per day are at a nearly six times higher
risk of smoking when compared to those who watch
less than two hours.
"Teens are particularly susceptible to becoming
first-time smokers if they see cool characters puffing
on cigarettes," Lieberman says.
Excess TV viewing is also linked to emotional
problems that can exacerbate all these problems,
says Simon Rego, director of psychology training at
Montefiore Medical Center and Albert Einstein Col-
lege of Medicine in New York. "It s linked to lower
self-esteem and a feeling of sadness," he says. "This
makes us more prone to drink, smoke and live an
So what is it about TV that s causing this effect?
A lot of it has to do with advertising, Lieberman
says. "TV commercials, filled with mouthwatering
shots of high-calorie foods, just beg you to get up
and go to the kitchen to get something to eat," she
"And movies have become synonymous with pop-
corn, such that you are drawn in a hypnotic trance
to the lobby counter where you fill up on popcorn,
candy bars and other sweets."
That trance is a form of conditioning, Rego says.
"People get zoned out while they watch," he says.
"They become so engaged during the programme
that they don t realise that they ate an entire bag
of chips, drank an entire two-litre bottle of soda or
smoked a pack of cigarettes."
Eventually, these actions become so intertwined
with the act of watching TV that doing one without
the other seems incomplete, Rego says. "Before you
know it, you get cravings based on what you re
watching," he says. "It s like how beer, sports and
wings just seem to go together with a football game."
Your TV is making you sick Watching TV has been
linked to a multitude of
health problems and
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