The average American watches about 150 hours of television per month. That’s six full days worth, and doesn’t include time spent in front of smart phones, tablets, computers, or other screens.
Sound like a lot? It is, especially since watching a lot of TV is associated with unhealthy eating and weight gain – something most of us could stand to avoid.
Just how does watching TV make us fatter? In three different ways:
When you’re watching TV…
- You’re missing out on burning calories. An hour of TV watching burns about 55 calories. Compared to walking (230 calories), leisurely riding a bike (220) or dancing (330), that’s not much. Even sleeping (70 calories), typing on a computer (80), and eating (100) expend more energy than watching TV.
- You’re likely to eat more. Many of us eat in front of the TV, and since we’re distracted and eating mindlessly, we’re liable to consume more than we realize simply because we’re not paying attention.
- You’re probably eating high-calorie food. Odds are you’re not taking a big bowl of raw vegetables to the couch for your favorite show. Instead, most people eat particularly high-calorie foods while watching TV. And, we are more likely to eat the type of food we see advertised on TV, which is almost always high-calorie and unhealthy.
A few other interesting tidbits about TV and weight:
- Recent research from Tufts University showed that excess weight is heavily stigmatized on TV, often used to indicate a character is evil, unattractive incompetent, lazy, or greedy.
- Actors and models on TV are usually thin and beautiful. Even in commercials for high-calorie, heavily processed food, thin and beautiful people are shown eating this food, which is misleading for consumers.
- The food industry spends $1 billion annually on advertising targeted at children and teenagers.
- If children ate the foods heavily advertised to them on TV, they would consume 25 times the sugar and 20 times the fat recommended by nutrition experts. Oh, and less than half of the recommended fruits and vegetables.
*Note: calorie expenditures are based on a 150 lb person and are general estimates*
*image above courtesy of Sheknows.com*