Television Viewing and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease and All-Cause Mortality
Estimates for the amount of time the average American spends watching television per day has recently been reported to be as high as five hours. This sedentary practice, often accompanied by less-than-ideal lifestyle and dietary choices, contributes to the poor health outcomes experienced by many Americans today.
A 2011 metastudy published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, “Television Viewing and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease and All-Cause Mortality,” aggregated results from eight studies between 1970 and 2011 to determine the average increased risk of mortality associated with prolonged television viewing.
Findings of the metastudy include:
- Watching two hours of television a day increased the risk of type 2 diabetes by 20%, cardiovascular disease by 15%, and all other causes of mortality by 13%. (The original studies downgraded this risk to 12% based on controlling for a subject’s BMI and overall energy intake.)
- The estimated risk differences in absolute numbers for every additional two hours of television viewing a day were an additional 176 cases of Type 2 Diabetes per 100,000 individuals every year, for fatal cardiovascular disease, it represented an additional 38 cases per 100,000 individuals every year and for all other causes of mortality, an additional 104 deaths per 100,000 individuals every year.
- On average the association between hours of television watched per day and type 2 diabetes risk was linear and positive. However the risk of all-cause mortality appeared to increase even further when a subject’s TV viewing exceeded three hours per day
Although the results of this study point heavily to an increased risk of all-cause mortality through prolonged television viewing, researchers conclude that “further study is needed to determine whether reducing prolonged TV viewing can prevent chronic disease morbidity and mortality.”
Tags: obesity, metastudy
Note to instructor: The suggested assignments are designed for flexibility. They can be used in whole or part and can be adapted to a particular task -- for example, the newswriting assignments could be applied to the writing of the headline, the lead, the nut graph or the full story. Material from the assignments could also be combined with other material, for example, in the writing of a background, feature or local-angle story.
- Summarize the study in fewer than 40 words.
- Express the study's key term(s) in language a lay audience can understand.
- Evaluate the study's limitations. (For example: Do the results conflict with those of other reliable studies? Are there weaknesses in the study's data or research design?)
Read the study-related article titled "TV Couch Potatoes May Be Heading for Early Deaths, Report Says."
- Reporter's use of the study: Evaluate what the reporter chose to include and exclude from the study. Would the audience have acquired a clear understanding of the study's findings and limits from this article?
- Reporter's use of other material: Assess the material in the article that is not derived from the study. (for example: Does the reporter place the study in the context of other research and to what effect? Does the reporter include reactions to the study from other researchers or interested parties [e.g., political groups business leaders, or community members] and are their credentials or possible biases made clear?)
- Write a lead (or headline or nut graph) based on the study.
- Spend 60 minutes exploring the issue by accessing sources of information other than the study. Write a lead (or headline or nut graph) based on the study but informed by the new information. Does the new information significantly change what one would write based on the study alone?
- Interview two sources with a stake in or knowledge of the issue. Be prepared to provide them with a short summary of the study in order to get their response to it. Write a 400-word article about the study incorporating material from the interviews.
- Spend additional time exploring the issue and then write a 1,200-word background article, focusing on major aspects of the issue.