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  • Original article
  • Television viewing time and reduced life expectancy:

a life table analysis

Abstract

Background Prolonged television (TV) viewing time is unfavourably associated with mortality outcomes, particularly for cardiovascular disease, but the impact on life expectancy has not been quantified. The authors estimate the extent to which TV viewing time reduces life expectancy in Australia, 2008.

Methods The authors constructed a life table model that incorporates a previously reported mortality risk associated with TV time. Data were from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study, a national population-based observational survey that started in 1999–2000. The authors modelled impacts of changes in population average TV viewing time on life expectancy at birth.

Results The amount of TV viewed in Australia in 2008 reduced life expectancy at birth by 1.8 years (95% uncertainty interval (UI): 8.4 days to 3.7 years) for men and 1.5 years (95% UI: 6.8 days to 3.1 years) for women. Compared with persons who watch no TV, those who spend a lifetime average of 6 h/day watching TV can expect to live 4.8 years (95% UI: 11 days to 10.4 years) less. On average, every single hour of TV viewed after the age of 25 reduces the viewer’s life expectancy by 21.8 (95% UI: 0.3–44.7) min. This study is limited by the low precision with which the relationship between TV viewing time and mortality is currently known.

Conclusions TV viewing time may be associated with a loss of life that is comparable to other major chronic disease risk factors such as physical inactivity and obesity.

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  1. J Lennert Veerman1,
  2. Genevieve N Healy2,3,
  3. Linda J Cobiac1,
  4. Theo Vos1,
  5. Elisabeth A H Winkler2,
  6. Neville Owen2,3,
  7. David W Dunstan3

+Author Affiliations


  1. 1Centre for Burden of Disease and Cost-Effectiveness, School of Population Health, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

  2. 2Cancer Prevention Research Centre, School of Population Health, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

  3. 3Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, Melbourne, Australia
  1. Correspondence toJ Lennert Veerman, Centre for Burden of Disease and Cost-Effectiveness, School of Population Health, The University of Queensland, Herston Road, Herston, QLD 4006, Australia;l.veerman@uq.edu.au
  1. Contributors All authors had full access to the data in the study. JLV takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis. He is guarantor. JLV and GNH designed the study. GNH, DWD, NO, JLV and LJC acquired the data. JLV, EAHW, LJC and GNH performed the analysis and interpreted the data. JLV drafted the manuscript, which was critically revised for intellectual content by all co-authors.

  • Accepted 12 May 2011
  • Published Online First 15 August 2011

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The questions I have for you are the following:

Do you care more about your life expectancy in 10, 20 or 30 years ?

Or is television viewing sucking the life out of you NOW?

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