Sitting on the couch and staring at the idiot box could be taking years off your life — 4.8 years to be exact, scientists have warned.
Australian researchers have found that for every hour of television viewed by a person over the age of 25, their life expectancy is reduced by 22 minutes, News.com.au reported.
The study was based on an average six hours viewing per day, compared to a person who watches no television.
Using data from the National Bureau of Statistics and the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study, the researchers generated life-expectancy tables based on the viewing habits of average Australians.
The results were alarming. “TV viewing time may be associated with a loss of life that is comparable to other major chronic disease risk factors such as physical inactivity, smoking and obesity,” the study found.
“These findings suggest that substantial loss of life may be associated with prolonged TV viewing time among Australian adults.”
The research also revealed that in 2008, Australians aged 25 and older watched a total of 9.8 billion hours of TV that year alone.
Recent studies in the US also concluded that the average American spent 35.5 hours a week watching TV.
The study is the first of its kind to analyse the impact of television viewing on life expectancy, and has called for a public health case to warn adults of the risks of watching too much TV.
Last year, another Australian study found an hour of TV a day led to an 8% increase in the risk of premature death.