Television Kills You, Slowly

From a new study: Every hour of TV you watch after age 25 reduces your life expectancy by 21.8 minutes. Granted, it feels like longer.

Television viewing time and reduced life expectancy: a life table analysis


BackgroundProlonged television TV viewing time is unfavourably associated with mortality outcomes, particularly for cardiovascular disease, but the impact on life expectancy has not been quantified. The authors estimate the extent to which TV viewing time reduces life expectancy in Australia, 2008.

Methods The authors constructed a life table model that incorporates a previously reported mortality risk associated with TV time. Data were from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study, a national population-based observational survey that started in 1999–2000. The authors modelled impacts of changes in population average TV viewing time on life expectancy at birth.

Results The amount of TV viewed in Australia in 2008 reduced life expectancy at birth by 1.8 years 95% uncertainty interval UI: 8.4 days to 3.7 years for men and 1.5 years 95% UI: 6.8 days to 3.1 years for women. Compared with persons who watch no TV, those who spend a lifetime average of 6 h/day watching TV can expect to live 4.8 years 95% UI: 11 days to 10.4 years less. On average, every single hour of TV viewed after the age of 25 reduces the viewers life expectancy by 21.8 95% UI: 0.3–44.7 min. This study is limited by the low precision with which the relationship between TV viewing time and mortality is currently known.

Conclusions TV viewing time may be associated with a loss of life that is comparable to other major chronic disease risk factors such as physical inactivity and obesity.

via Television viewing time and reduced life expectancy: a life table analysis — Veerman et al. — British Journal of Sports Medicine.


  1. So Crates says:

    It's not the TV viewing, it's the sitting. So the same will apply to extended computer use.

    PS – Ever seen someone who was 85? So what?

    • I actually know several pretty fantastic people older than 85. My 92-year-old great uncle and his wife have been traveling the world for the past 10 years. It's not about age; it's about health, which is precisely what this is pointing at.

  2. Geez, that 2 sigma uncertainty interval is enormous (Though they admit it). "Eh, somewhere between 18 seconds and 44.7 minutes per hour watched."

    Also, if you watch 6+ hours of TV a day, you're probably just waiting to die anyway.

  3. Not watching it makes it feel twice as long.

  4. Rick Yagodich says:

    The only TV-watching I do is on the machines at the gym… so, am I extending my life or shortening it?

  5. Spurious correlation? If sitting still watching tv reduces your life can you imagine how life shortening an office job must be.