‘Too much TV can take years off your life’ – statistical truth or mostly rubbish?

30 August 2011

Too often, journalists use sensationalist headlines to grab the attention of readers and ultimately, sell newspapers. How much is this true in the latest health headline that claim TV-watching for an average of 6 hours a day will take 5 years off your life expectancy?

In the study, researchers found that lifespan went down by 22 minutes for every hour of television watched after age 25. This finding was made by a research team, led by Dr. J. Lennert Veerman from the University of Queensland. However, the findings of the research did not necessarily mean that watching TV in itself would result in a shorter lifespan.

Thomas Lumley believes that the way headlines are worded do impact on newspaper sales but responsible reporting is important to avoid readers ‘switching off mentally’ due to what can be perceived as contradictory new health discoveries.

To listen to Thomas Lumley’s interview on the Mediawatch programme, click here and listen from 21:40 minutes into the programme.