Television Watching and “Sit Time”
The Small Screen Looms Large in the Obesity Epidemic
Television (TV) watching is the favourite pastime in the SA. After work and sleep, TV viewing is the most commonly reported activity taking up just over half of all leisure time. These TV habits are part of a larger trend: globally, people are spending more time sitting at work and at home and this “sit time” is a major contributor to the overweight. Sedentary activities—not only TV watching, but also working at desk jobs, using computers, playing video games, driving cars —burn few kilojoules and may replace more active pursuits. Increasingly, though, there’s evidence that watching TV—and, especially, watching junk food ads on TV—promotes obesity by changing mainly what and how much people eat, less so by changing how much they move.
TV Viewing and Adult Obesity
In the Nurses’ Health Study which followed more than 50,000 middle-age women for six years it showed that for every two hours the women spent watching television each day, they had a 23 percent higher risk of becoming obese and a 14 percent higher risk of developing diabetes.
How Does TV Watching Increase the Risk of Overweight?
TV watching could promote obesity in several ways:
less time for physical activity
promoting poor diets by giving more opportunities for unhealthy snacking and poorer food choices while watching TV
interfering with sleep
food and beverage marketing influence choices of what to consume
The Bottom Line: Limit TV and “Sit Time,” Increase “Fit Time” to Prevent Obesity
Staying active can help with weight control, as can limiting sedentary activities. A good strategy is to replace “sit time” with “fit time”. People’s physical and social surroundings have a strong influence on how active they are and we understand it’s not always practical to take a bicycle to work or it might not be safe to go for a walk. However, you need to do whatever it takes in your means, to be as active as you can. All the little “bits” of exercise will add up