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Too Much TV Kills but The Most Active People Can Get Away with It

Your mother probably told you this, but you thought she was just making it up. Actually, over the past 40 years, a number of studies have shown negative health effects related to watching TV for hours each day. A recent study, however, finds there is a way you can get away with this sedentary behavior!

The Association Between TV Time, Disease, and Death

The Journal of the American Medical Association published a large meta-analysis covering 1.3 million patient years.1 Researchers found that watching an average of two hours of TV per day is associated with a 20% higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes and a 15% higher risk of cardiovascular disease. Most alarmingly, people who watched two hours of TV per day were 13% more likely to die during the studies. They also found that the more TV people watched, the greater the mortality rate.

Of course, researchers pointed out that TV doesn't directly have negative health effects. It's the fact that people tend to eat less healthy foods and remain sedentary during television viewing.

More Recent Research Qualifies Those Results

Researchers have been digging more deeply into the association between TV time and disease. Most recently Ulf Ekeland (Norwegian Institute of Public Health) conducted a meta-analysis of nine studies. They focused on the association between TV time, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. TV time is also associated with cancer. Their twist was to divide people into four groups of physical activity levels from most active to least active. People in the bottom quartile of physical activity saw the worst effects from time spent begin sedentary. However, among people in the upper quartile of physical activity levels, there was no association between TV time and cardiovascular disease or cancer.


If you were looking for motivation to snack healthy or do something active, here's a little more motivation to have fun and live healthy, longer.



  1. Grøntved A, Hu FB. Television viewing and risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and all-cause mortality: a meta-analysis. JAMA. 2011 Jun 15;305(23):2448-55.
  2. Ekelund U, Brown WJ, Steene-Johannessen J, Fagerland MW, Owen N, Powell KE, Bauman AE, Lee IM. Do the associations of sedentary behaviour with cardiovascular disease mortality and cancer mortality differ by physical activity level? A systematic review and harmonised meta-analysis of data from 850 060 participants. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 2019 Jul 1;53(14):886-94.


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