Watching TV and Obesity: Is There A Link?

Fit woman speed walking in summerHow Can You Avoid the Fattening Effects of TV Viewing?

Hopefully at this point you are convinced that too much TV and snacking and/or eating your meals in front of a television is a bad idea. So, what can you do to avoid getting fat while watching TV?

  • Reduce TV time and become more active. The Nurses’ Health Study recommends watching less than 10 hours a week of television and taking a brisk walk for a minimum of 30 minutes a day (4). That means you should only be watching slightly more than an hour of TV a day, if any at all. If you could reserve 30 minutes to an hour a day for some kind of exercise, you will be on the right track to limit the impact TV has on your weight.

Another way you can reduce TV time is by removing all television sets from your kitchen (where you typically eat) and your bedroom. If there isn’t a television to watch while you eat dinner, you won’t have the problem of getting distracted and overeating.

  • Don’t eat while you watch TV. Don’t eat your meals in front of the TV. This will protect you from overeating. It will also help you better recall your previous meals and avoid overeating at succeeding meals. Also, limit your TV snacking, especially when eating foods that are high in sugar or fat. We tend to overeat when we aren’t paying attention. So, it’s an overall great idea to only eat when you can control your portions.

Don’t let yourself turn into a human couch potato. As with everything else, moderation is the key. Limit your television viewing time and avoid eating in front of the TV and this will protect you from the TV-induced obesity. The effects of TV and weight gain are applicable to everyone, so it is particularly important to make sure children follow these guidelines as well.

About the Author

Matthew Denos, PhD, is a biologist and a writer who enjoys writing articles in layman’s terms on the topics of nutrition, diets and weight loss. He forms and supports his views by reading relevant peer-reviewed scientific publications in the field of obesity research. His blog features a Medifast promotion and a coupon for Nutrisystem, two popular meal replacement programs.

[box type=”note”]Editor’s Note: Not only has television viewing time been linked to obesity, but it’s also been linked to diabetes and chronic kidney disease markers (Lynch et al, 2010).[/box]


  1. Hu FB, Li TY, Colditz GA, Willett WC, Manson JE. Television watching and other sedentary behaviors in relation to risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus in women. JAMA. 2003 Apr 9;289(14):1785-91.
  2. Bener A, Al-Mahdi HS, Ali AI, Al-Nufal M, Vachhani PJ, Tewfik I. Obesity and low vision as a result of excessive Internet use and television viewing. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2010 Jul 21
  3. Lynch BM, White SL, Owen N, Healy GN, Chadban SJ, Atkins RC, Dunstan DW. Television Viewing Time and Risk of Chronic Kidney Disease in Adults: The AusDiab Study. Ann Behav Med. 2010 Aug 26

Matthew Papa

Matthew, PhD, is a biology scientist and former research fellow at Washington University in Saint Louis, MO. He closely follows the research findings in the field of nutrition, diet and weight loss and enjoys writing relevant articles that present newsworthy information. In his blog, he reviews some clinically studied weight loss programs and offers a discount promotion for Weight Watchers

8 thoughts on “Watching TV and Obesity: Is There A Link?

  • April 8, 2011 at 11:37 am

    Can anyone doubt that sitting in front of the tv watching others live their lives can be a substitute for living our own?

    Of COURSE tv is not good for our weight!

  • October 24, 2010 at 2:46 am

    Oh quite a nice post Matthew. How about turning to some other channel at the time of commercials .. Unless the other channel also shows commercials at the same time.. hehe.. Great outlook overall and quite comprehensive. Thanks.

  • October 23, 2010 at 2:13 am

    Thanks Jarret,
    This is true for excessive computer use, too.

    According to Dr Shi’s paper published last month:

    “Excessive recreational computer use independently predicts undesirable eating behaviors that could lead to overweight and obesity.


  • October 22, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    Great post Matthew! Most people probably are not cognizant of the effects of watching TV while they eat.

  • October 21, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    Also, television viewing time has been associated with increased risk of all-cause and CVD mortality. (Dunstan et al, 2010. Thank you for this addition, editor.

    • January 14, 2011 at 3:13 am

      Is there any study that reported negetive or no relation between Tv watching and obesity.

  • October 21, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    Fantastic post! Interesting that overeating also occurs at subsequent meals.
    This would make anyone think twice about regular t.v dinners. Thanks


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