I like TV as much as, maybe more than most. In fact as I am writing this blog I am having trouble deciding what to watch tonight. I am torn between the season premieres of Criminal Minds and Law and Order SVU. I am already looking forward to watching Clemson beat Wake Forrest this Saturday. I probably watch more TV than I should but I was amazed to find out that according to a Nielson report release in 2012, we are now watching on average 34 hours of TV a week, that’s right 34 hours. In the 65 and older crowd that number reaches 48 hours per week. In addition we are watching another 3 -6 hours of taped shows.
Brian Wansink Ph.D, writes in one of my favorite books, Mindless Eating, that “It’s about as close to established fact as things get in the social sciences that people who watch a lot of TV are much more likely to be overweight than people who don’t”. It doesn’t matter how old we are, or what we watch, more TV=more weight. It’s not too hard to figure out why. TV is a double whammy. When we are watching TV we are not moving (unless you are on a treadmill or exercise bike) and we eat more when we watch TV. In fact Wansink says that when it comes to eating, TV is a triple threat. We tend to eat when we watch TV, when we wouldn’t be eating otherwise. We tend to eat more while watching TV than we would if they were eating but not watching TV. And we tend to eat for longer periods of time while watching TV than we would if we were not watching TV. In other words TV increase the frequency, quantity (intensity) and duration of eating. And because it is the ultimate of mindless eating we have no clue how much we have eaten when we watch TV.
There is certainly nothing wrong with enjoying some TV (the National Weight Control Registry, a data base tracking the behaviors of successful weight managers, found that those who are maintaining their weight loss watch on average 10 hours of TV per week) and of course we all have to eat. But if you are really serious about controlling your weight, it would be a good idea to limit how often you do the two of them together.