Studies (as well as common sense) have suggested the connection between greater time spent watching TV and ill health. TV watching is a sedentary activity coupled with snacking and exposure to food advertising. Smith et al. recently published in JECH the results of tracking a British birth cohort over 30 years. What's most interesting is the association betweent childhood socioecononomic position and adult television viewing, adding to the evidence that socioeconomic circumstances across life could generate persistent unhealthy behaviors.
We also know that TV viewing (or screen time) in adolescence and adulthood contribute to later cardio-metabolic risk. Sleep deprivation might represent one pathway from TV time to obesity. McAnally and Hancox in their commentary question the possible role of government in regulating excessive media consumption. There is no easy answer.
Education alone about the harmful effects of TV and screen time won't change this trend in our digital society. It is undoubtedly a very affordable form of entertainment. Education has not compelled many of us to do the right thing. Could we be "nudged" or provide incentive to change our behaviors? Such interventions could also have the potential to cause further health disparties.
"I wish to do something Great and Wonderful, but I must start by doing the little things like they were Great and Wonderful"