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TV binging linked to increased risk of inflammatory disease like diabetes

Sitting down to binge watch your favourite TV shows increases your risk of dying from diseases like diabetes and kidney disease

 Binger on couch

 

Research shows every hour spent sitting watching TV makes you more likely to die from inflammation-related diseases. 

 

Melbourne researchers have made an important link between the time spent sitting in front of the television and increased risk of death from inflammatory-related diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, diabetes and kidney disease.

 

Using survey data of over 8900 adults, Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute researchers found that every extra hour per day spent watching television led to a 12 per cent higher risk of death linked to inflammation, including diabetes, respiratory, cognitive, and kidney diseases.

 

The findings, published in the journal of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, build on sedentary behaviour research, including pivotal research from the Baker Institute that has previously linked TV viewing time with an increased risk of mortality related to heart disease and some cancers.

 

The study found that even those who watch moderate levels (2-4 hours per day) may benefit by cutting down their television viewing time.

 

Lead author and Senior Research Officer in the Institute's  Physical Activity LaboratoryDr Megan Grace, says inflammation is a normal response where chemicals are released into the blood in response to a harmful event to help recovery.

 

When the immune system senses danger such as stress or infection, it responds by activating proteins meant to protect cells and tissues.

 

But she says inflammation can become harmful if these chemicals hang around for long periods, causing disease.

 

"We know sitting involves reduced muscle activity, and therefore reduced blood flow. We think this stagnation in the blood vessels may be leading to an accumulation of inflammatory markers in the blood and muscles," Dr Grace said.

 

"Inflammation is a normal response in the body when there's an injury or infection.

 

 "When the inflammation isn't cleared away and it hangs around, we think this long-term low-level inflammation is actually causing damages to tissues that lead to diseases like diabetes, lung diseases and cognitive disorders like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's."

 

Dr Grace said she hoped the findings, published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, would help drive new guidelines to include advice on reducing sitting time in addition to physical activity.

 

"This data was collected in 2000, before many of these on-demand TV technologies existed. We think the problem is probably even worse now than what we recognised," she said.

 

"The literature is really becoming stronger that even for those who do meet the daily exercise guidelines, if they go and sit for the rest of the day they are still at risk of these inflammatory diseases.

 

"Some sitting is good for you, but too much is bad. We need to move around as much as possible."

 

Dr Grace said these findings are an important step in finding out why prolonged periods of sitting may be bad for health. They also provide further evidence that, in addition to promoting physical activity, chronic disease prevention strategies should focus on reducing sitting time.

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