Binge-watching warning

COUCH MODE: Contestants in Gogglebox Australia, a popular television show about people watching television shows. Picture: The Sunday Age.
COUCH MODE: Contestants in Gogglebox Australia, a popular television show about people watching television shows. Picture: The Sunday Age.

BINGE-watching favourite television shows increases your risk of dying from diseases like Alzheimer’s and kidney disease, a new study shows.

Melbourne researchers have confirmed a link between the time spent sitting in front of the television and a heightened risk of inflammatory-related diseases, also including Parkinson’s disease and diabetes.

Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute lead author in the study, Megan Grace said the study took a closer look at data in the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study, which focused on middle-aged television viewers.

Dr Grace told The Courier technology advances, like on-demand, since the original data was taken, now a couple of years ago, made findings particularly still relevant amid increasing screen time in all aged groups.

“The simple takeaway message is to sit less and move more, more often, for all ages even though this study focuses on television viewing,” Dr Grace said.

“Take any opportunity to get moving because that’s what your body is designed to do.”

The warning comes leading into Victorian school holidays.

Ballarat is well-known as a hot-spot for high-obesity and overweight rates, smoking rates and, according to the Heart Foundation, has been found to have one of the nation’s highest rates of cardiovascular disease and heart attacks.

This latest study built on previous work by the Baker Institute into links between sedentary behaviour and television viewing times.

It reconfirmed links between prolonged sitting and chronic low levels of inflammation, which Dr Grace said could be detrimental to health, with this study focusing on risks of kidney and cognitive disease.

While further study is needed to determine the why, Dr Grace said studies fond that even those who watch moderate levels of television daily (two to four hours) could benefit from cutting down their television viewing time.

Dr Grace said inflammation was a normal response where chemicals were released into the blood in response to a harmful event to help recovery.

But, she said inflammation could become harmful if these chemicals hung around for long periods, causing disease.

Dr Grace said these findings are an important step in finding out why prolonged periods of sitting may be bad for health and was further evidence to focus on reduced sitting and couch time in chronic disease prevention strategies.

“The recommendation is that even if you are watching television for a long period, make a conscious effort to get up regularly and move about,” Dr Grace said.