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Obesity: It’s Not TV – It’s TV Dinners

People who watch more TV tend to be heavier that people who don’t. The question, however, is whether it is the lack of physical activity associated with TV watching or the snacking that often goes with it that accounts for the weight gain.

This question was recently addressed by Verity Cleland and colleagues from the Menzies Research Institute, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, in a paper just out in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

This study involved a cross-sectional analysis of data from 2001 Australian adults aged 26-36 y. Waist circumference (WC) was measured at study clinics, and TV viewing time, frequency of food and beverage consumption during TV viewing, leisure time physical activity, and demographic characteristics were self-reported.

In both men and women, watching more than 3 hrs of TV per day was associated with a roughly two-fold higher risk of abdominal obesity compared to men or women watching an hour or less per day.

Interestingly, adjusting for leisure time physical activity did not change this relationship, whereas adjusting for food and beverage consumption during TV viewing did.

The authors conclude that the impact of TV viewing on weight is more likely due to the associated snacking than due to the sedentariness of sitting in front of the TV.

So if you do watch a lot of TV, watch out for those snacks and drinks.

Remember, one of the best weight management tips has always been: do not eat in front of the TV!

Edmonton, Alberta

1 Comment

  1. This is a helpful study, teasing out the TV-food nexus. It seems that in modern life, being awake is an eating occasion.
    My partner and I went to the movies recently to see a Harry Potter movie and found we were almost the only people in the theatre not munching on popcorn, crisps or candy. The noise did not quite drown out the soundtrack (soundtracks are so loud these days) but it made watching movies at home on the DVD player look even more attractive.
    Need I mention the fact that in Australian movie theatres now you have to queue in the food/drink queue to buy your movie ticket (unless you buy it online).
    Our capacity to eat more than is needed every day seem boundless and perhaps most of us have lost any capacity to judge how little we can safely eat at one meal without being hungry before the next main meal time.

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