Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Article Comments

Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes And Cardiovascular Disease: Don’t Be A Couch Potato

There were no real surprises for me in the article entitled  “Television Viewing and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease, and All-Cause Mortality” by Anders Grøntved and Frank B. Hu that appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA 2011;305(23):2448-2455). As stated in the abstract: “Prolonged television (TV) viewing is the most prevalent and pervasive sedentary behavior in industrialized countries and has been associated with morbidity and mortality. However, a systematic and quantitative assessment of published studies is not available.”

The authors performed an analysis of eight previously published studies to determine the association between TV viewing and risk of type 2 diabetes, fatal or nonfatal cardiovascular disease, and all-cause mortality.

The risk of all-cause mortality appeared to increase with TV viewing duration of greater than three hours per day. The estimated absolute risk differences per every two hours of TV viewing per day were 176 cases of type 2 diabetes per 100,000 individuals per year, 38 cases of fatal cardiovascular disease per 100,000 individuals per year, and 104 deaths for all-cause mortality per 100,000 individuals per year. The authors concluded that prolonged TV viewing was associated with increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and all-cause mortality.

So, the question is why do people who sit in front of a TV for more than three hours per day have these increased risks? Are they genetically different? Not likely, unless there is a gene for being a couch potato. Do they have bad dietary habits? Are they overweight? That’s hard to say, but likely. Do they exercise less? Now we’re on to something. When you’re sitting on the couch watching TV, you’re not exercising. If you want to lower your risk for diabetes and heart disease, exercise is essential.

Going outside and doing something physical is better than sitting on your rear end in front of the boob tube. By the same token, sitting around anywhere is not improving your health, unless you need the rest. So, to TV we need to add being glued to your computer (i.e., facebook). Checking your friend’s status doesn’t get your heart rate up (usually), lower your lipids, or add muscle.

Outdoor health is predicated on being outside. Think about how many hours a day you are absorbed in social networking and what that accomplishes for you. You would be better off performing an exercise routine, attending a yoga class, walking briskly in a park, or pedaling on a mountain bike trail. Converting from being a spectator to becoming a participant is the healthiest thing you can do. Don’t surf the web. Grab your board and jump into the real ocean. If you want to chat, talk to the person next to you on the jogging path. When you’re inclined to grab a cold one, make it a sports beverage after a long hike instead of a beer sitting in the stands at the ballpark. In the U.S., there are more persons with diabetes than ever before. You would like to avoid becoming a diabetic if possible. Sit on the couch when you need to rest because you are tired from a good old-fashioned workout—then you may turn on the TV.

This post, Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes And Cardiovascular Disease: Don’t Be A Couch Potato, was originally published on Healthine.com by Paul Auerbach, M.D..


You may also like these posts

Read comments »


Comments are closed.

Return to article »

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

Read more »

How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

Read more »

The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

Read more »

Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

Read more »

See all book reviews »