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Can watching too much TV harm your health?

As the return of your favorite TV shows inches ever closer on the calendar, it may be an opportune time to consider what effects TV watching may have on your health. New research shows that those who park themselves in front of the tube for an average of six hours each day lives nearly five years less than people who don't watch TV, reports CBS News:

Researchers from the University of Queensland, Australia say every hour of TV watching after age 25 cuts almost 22 minutes off the viewer's lifespan.

For the study - published in the August 15 issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine - researchers looked at TV viewing habits of 11,000 Aussies from the decade-long Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle survey. Compared with adults who watch no TV, Australians who spend a lifetime average of 6 hours per day in front of the tube "can expect to live 4.8 years less," the authors wrote.

The study's author says watching television is as unhealthy as smoking or being obese.

Similarly, a comprehensive analysis (subscription required) of prior research published in June in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed two hours of daily television viewing is associated with a 20 percent higher risk of type 2 diabetes, a 15 percent higher chance of cardiovascular disease, and a 13 percent increased risk of all-cause mortality for men and women. Both studies add to the growing body of research on the potential risks associated with watching too much TV.

Previously: Glued to the tube? You could be putting your health at risk, Series looks at the physiology of sedentary behavior, Does TV watching, or prolonged sitting, contribute to child obesity rates? and Stanford hosts conference on the science of sedentary behavior

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