Every hour spent watching TV, DVDs and videos as an adult reduces life expectancy by almost 22 minutes, a study suggests.
And viewing TV for an average of six hours a day can cut short your life by five years.
The research claims that a sedentary lifestyle is as bad for health as smoking and obesity, because of the dangers posed by inactivity and the greater opportunities it offers for unhealthy eating.
The academics conducting the study set out to calculate the overall risk to life expectancy from watching television. Their research involved more than 11,000 people over the age of 25.
Writing in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, they concluded: ‘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.’
This finding is also comparable to risk factors such as smoking, with other research showing that one cigarette cuts 11 minutes off a lifespan – equivalent to half an hour of watching TV.