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Over 2.5 hours of TV a Day Ups Risk of Overweight

tv and remoteAmong people of different ethnicities and education, watching over two and a half hours of television a day increases the odds of being overweight when compared to those who watch less than an hour and 45 minutes, suggests a new study published in PLoS ONE.

The study builds on research indicating that increased sedentary time, such as when watching TV, increases the risk for obesity, metabolic syndrome and cancer. Study authors wanted to investigate how this link may change based on race/ethnicity and socio-economics.

Study authors analyzed data from approximately 5,000 respondents of the Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS), a nationally representative sample of US adults. Researchers broke the participants into four groups, based on the amount of average TV participants watched: The lowest TV-watching group ranged from an average of no television to 1 hour and 42 minutes a day; the top TV group watched over 3 hours and 42 minutes a day.

Overall, overweight and obesity increased among those who watched over 2 hours and 36 minutes a day compared to those who watched the least amount of TV, when adjusting for physical activity and other factors that might affect risk. For specific race/ethnicities, higher amounts of TV viewing increased the risk of non-Hispanic whites for being overweight/ obese, the same risk was observed among non-hispanic blacks and Hispanics but these groups did not reach statistical significance. This is most probably due to smaller sample sizes, the authors conclude.

Both college graduates and non-graduates in the top-watching TV group were at increased odds for being overweight compared to those who watched the least. People with health insurance and the employed who watched more TV every day were also at increased risk.

Source: Shuval K, Gabriel KP, Leonard T. TV Viewing and BMI by Race/Ethnicity and Socio-Economic Status. PLoS One. 2013 May 15;8(5).

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