Thanks to media streaming portals like Netflix and Hulu, watching what you want, when you want and for however long you want has never been easier. Despite the conveniences that come with these services, however, there was bound to be a dark side to binge-watching your favourite television shows.
That downside? Sitting through an entire season of – oh, let’s say – Game of Thrones in one fell swoop puts you at an increased risk of dying from inflammatory-related diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes and kidney disease, a new study says.
According to researchers at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, Australia, every extra hour per day spent watching television puts you at 12 per cent increased risk of death related to inflammation.
To figure this out, researchers looked at survey data of over 8,900 adults, and what they found was that those who tended to binge-watch television shows had some characteristics in common.
“With on-demand television, many of us easily spend several hours a day binge-watching our favourite shows,” lead author Dr. Megan Grace said in a statement. “Those who spent more time watching TV were older, less likely to have completed at least 12 years of education, had lower household income, were more likely to be current or ex-smokers, more likely to have diabetes or hypertension and had a more adverse overall health profile. High TV viewers also had a lower diet quality.”
Grace adds that the findings are important in figuring out why sitting for long periods of time may be bad for one’s health. It also proves that chronic disease prevention strategies should promote and focus reduced sitting time.
The study was published this week in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
Other studies throughout the years have linked prolonged sitting with health issues.
In 2016, Elsevier Health Sciences reported that sitting for more than three hours a day is tied to 3.8 per cent of all-cause mortality deaths and that reducing sitting time to less than three hours a day would improve life expectancy by an average of 0.2 years.
A 2015 study by the American Cancer Society even linked “leisure time sitting” with a higher risk of certain cancers in women, like multiple myeloma, breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
Researchers in this study looked at over 146,000 men and women (69,260 men and 77,462 women) who were cancer-free. Between 1992 and 2009, 18,555 men and 12,236 women were diagnosed with cancer.
That’s when they found that sitting for longer periods of time was linked to a 10 per cent higher risk of cancer in women (after adjusting for physical activity, BMI and other factors). That association, however, was not found in men.
However, other studies in the past concluded different results when it comes to linking sitting and diabetes, in particular.
A study done earlier this year by the University of Sydney found no link between sitting and an increased incident rate of diabetes.
This study looked at 4,811 middle-aged and older office workers in London. Those who took part in the study were initially free of diabetes and major cardiovascular disease.
When researchers followed up 13 years later with the participants, there were 402 cases of diabetes reported.
However, researchers said there was little evidence for associating sitting and diabetes, and that “these weak associations were limited to TV sitting time.”