New Study Suggests Too Much TV Increases Chances of Getting Alzheimer's

Spoiler alert: too much television may lead to an increased risk of getting Alzheimer's disease.


According to the Washington Post, researchers at the Northern California Institute for Research and Education in San Francisco have found those who watch four hours or more of television per day scored lower on cognitive performance tests in middle age. The effect is all the more troubling because the median age of Americans is increasing. According to the Post:

The findings occur as shifting demographics are raising the median age in the United States and several other developing countries. More than 28 million baby boomers are projected to develop Alzheimer’s by 2050, and more than 5 million people are living with the disease now, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. 

For those who think "TV" means an actual TV, rather than vegging in front of the computer and burning through entire seasons of West Wing on Netflix, think again. The findings show the primary issue is a "sedentary lifestyle," which involves long time periods of both physical and mental inactivity:

Compared with participants with high physical activity and low television viewing, a relatively sedentary person who exercises little and spends a lot of time in front of the television will be two times more likely to perform poorly on cognitive tests in midlife, the study found.

The analysis showed that people who watch "a lot of television" had a "1.5 percent higher risk of performing worse on cognitive test compared with those who watched less television." The study broadly defined "lots of TV" as anything over four hours. 

According to Nielsen, the average American watches five hours of television per day. 

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