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Heart Smart Living
Heart Smart Living

Cardiologist, author, and heart health expert Dr. Sarah Samaan offers advice on how to live a heart smart life.

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Turn it Off: How TV Can Make You Fat

Television has become our national pastime, with the average American adult spending about five hours daily planted in front of the tube, according to a recent Nielsen survey. Add in computer and video time, and it’s hard to imagine that we have room in our days for anything else but work and sleep.

Numerous studies have shown a strong relationship between TV watching and obesity and diabetes. In 2010, Dr. David Dunstan and his Australian colleagues examined the relationship between TV time and mortality over the course of nearly seven years. The bottom line? Turn it off. For every one hour of TV time, the likelihood of dying increased by 11 percent, with heart disease and cancer as the leading causes of death. Those who watched more than four hours daily were 46 percent more likely to die than those who kept TV to a minimum.

If dying isn’t scary enough, think about your waistline. Not surprisingly, obesity is strongly linked to television time. Most of us spend our TV time on the couch, burning very little calories at all. And since many of the commercials that are so cannily fed to us are for snack foods and fast foods, it’s no wonder that people tend to eat mindlessly while watching TV.

 I often hear the excuse that that there is just not enough time in the day to exercise, but the truth is that we have more leisure time available to us than at any period in our country’s history. Walk the dog, hop on an exercise bike, or enjoy a yoga class. I promise that you’ll feel so much better. 

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Tags: Weight and Heart Health

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About the Author


Dr. Samaan is an acclaimed cardiologist, writer, and heart health educator.