Watch CBSN Live

Sedentary lifestyle tied to diabetes, heart disease, premature death: Is TV to blame?

Sedentary lifestyles lead to major health risks, according to a new study istockphoto

(CBS) Looking for an easy way to save yourself from diabetes, heart disease, or even an early death?

Turn off the television.

That's the implication of a not-exactly-earth-shaking new study by Harvard researchers, who looked at the health of TV junkies from 1970 to 2011 and found some pretty major health risks.

"The message is simple," study author Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard's School of Public Health, said in a written statement. "Cutting back on TV watching can significantly reduce risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and premature mortality."

Wait, too much TV time is bad for you? Somebody stop the presses. But while previous studies have linked TV viewing to high blood pressuer and obesity, this study actually puts a number on how much TV viewing it takes to suffer health consequences.

Want the specifics? Watching TV for  two hours a day ups the risk for  type 2 diabetes by 20 percent and cardiovascular disease by 15 percent, the study showed. More than three hours of daily viewing and you're upping your risk of dying from any disease.

But let's be real - who watches TV for only two hours a day?

On average, Europeans spend 40 percent of their free time watching TV, while Australians spend 50 percent - three to four hours a day.

But Americans always seem to strive to be tops, and here is no exception. We average five hours of TV time every day, according to the study, which was published in the June 15 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Just what should you do in light of the finding? As Dr. Hu told HealthDay, "Those who watch a lot of TV should cut back on TV watching and do more of something else."

Time to put down the remote and go for a walk?

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue