TV's unintended consequences -- good and bad [Cognitive Daily]

Television can have a huge influence on our lives. But the most important influences may be the ones we don't even notice. I discuss several fascinating studies about television in my latest column on Here's a snippet:

Travis Saunders, a PhD student at the University of Ottawa who studies the impact of sedentary lifestyles, questions whether a little exercise can make up for hours of inactivity. He refers to a study led by G.F. Dunton of the University of Southern California and published in October in the International Journal of Obesity. The researchers conducted a phone survey of 10,000 Americans who ranged from normal weight to obese. As you might expect, people who engaged in a lot of physical activity tended to weigh less than those who did not.

But when the researchers considered how much time these individuals spent watching TV and movies, a different pattern emerged. No matter how much TV they watched, if they didn't exercise, they had high BMIs (body mass index--a measure of obesity). But even among people who exercised more than an hour a day, those watching more than an hour of TV per day had significantly higher BMIs than those who did not. In fact, for respondents who watched more than an hour of TV, whether or not they exercised no longer predicted BMI.

And there are many other surprising correlations between TV watching and both detrimental and beneficial results. For more, read the whole article.

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