How many hours of TV do you watch a day? If youâ€™re watching several hours worth, chances are you may want to reconsider the habit when you see what current research has to say about TV viewing and weight gain.
Americans have earned a reputation worldwide for watching a lot of TV. Weâ€™re also known for our huge meal portions and high rate of obesity.
Back in 1990, when a study asked American participants to name their most time-consuming activities of the day, participants ranked watching TV as number three after work and sleep. This is very revealing as to how people spend their time and what a priority television is in this country.
Today, U.S. households are still watching an average of 8 hours of TV a day. So what does television have to do with weight?
How Watching TV and Obesity Relate
Studies have repeatedly found that there is a positive correlation between watching television and obesity. The Nursesâ€™ Health Study (Hu et al, 2003), for example, looked at 50,000 women, ages 30-55, to see if there was a relationship between prolonged TV watching and obesity. The study found strong evidence that television viewing and obesity were definitely linked, concluding that women had a 23% increased chance of obesity for every additional 2 hours of television time they watched.
The association between TV viewing and body weight is not observed only in adults; the relationship is actually more evident in children. Benerâ€™s 2010 study, titled â€œObesity and low vision as a result of excessive Internet use and television viewingâ€, points out that school students who spend prolonged hours in front of television tend to be overweight or obese.
Undoubtedly, obesity and TV viewing are related. But is the relationship causal? Is the one causing the other? In other words, is the very act of watching TV causing people to become heavier? Î‘ causal relationship of television viewing to obesity has been strongly suggested in the scientific literature. If you are interested in learning how exactly TV viewing can make you gain weight, I would urge you to read on.