Reducing TV Time Helps Adults Burn More Calories

Posted Tue, 12/15/2009 - 1:46pm by Denise Reynolds

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The average adult watches almost five hours of television per day. A recent study has found that by reducing time in front of the tube, men and women can burn as much as 119 extra calories a day.

Researchers from the University of Vermont in Burlington conducted a trial involving 36 adults who had a body mass index (BMI) between 25 and 50. A BMI between 25 and 30 is considered overweight, and BMI greater than 30 is obese. A lock-out system was used to reduce television time in half. No changes were made to caloric intake over the three-week study period.

One hundred calories may not seem like much, but increasing energy expenditure — or calories burned — by 100 can potentially lead to a 10-pound weight loss over the course of one year. Conversely, a calorie balance that is 100 over daily body needs can increase weight by 10 pounds.

The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control issued a report in 2007 on Reducing Children’s TV Time to Reduce the Risk of Childhood Overweight. The data from their study of over 1000 parents found that the average American family has three television sets, access to cable or satellite channels (increasing the number of options), at least one VCR, a video game system, and a computer with online access. Through all of these means, a child will spend an average of 4.5 hours a day looking at a screen.

Reducing time spent in sedentary activities not only allows for more time to spend exercising, but can also benefit weight loss efforts by alleviating chronic sleep deprivation, which is potentially linked to weight gain. A study from 2006 found that people who slept less than the recommended eight hours a night were 73% more likely to suffer from obesity. Shorter sleep duration may be linked to a hormonal imbalance, which affects hunger and satiety.

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommends that adults limit screen time to no more than two hours each day. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than one to two hours for children under the age of 18, and no television for children under the age of 2.

When time is spent watching television, do something active during the commercial breaks to burn calories, such as push-ups, jumping jacks, weight lifting, or even a speed-cleaning session in one room of the house. While on the computer, take breaks often and use the time doing some type of physical activity.

And finally, enforce eating at the table, and not in front of the television. Research shows that people eat an average of 44% more while viewing.

Source: Archives of Internal Medicine, December 14-28

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