TV Makes You Fat: An Update

Is this really quality time?

You know you shouldn't watch as much TV as you do.  Many of us come home from a long day and just veg out in front of the tube.  It's definitely one of the biggest contributing factors to obesity, but here are the stats:
  • The average American watches 6 hours and 47 minutes per day!
  • The average amount of "meaningful conversation" that parents have with their kids is 3.5 minutes. Per WEEK!
  • Most US households have more TVs than people.  (2.73 TV sets vs. 2.55 people)
  • Percentage of households with a TV: 99%
  • Percentage of households with a dedicated exercise room: 7%
  • Childhood obesity has been linked to the number of junk food commercials that kids see on TV
A new study suggests that if we turned off our TVs permanently, we'd burn 238 more calories per day doing other activities. That's the equivalent of 25 pounds per year.  Yikes! All of these studies present some pretty serious numbers that hopefully make you pause and think.  Does it make you want to at least talk to your kid more than 210 seconds per week?  Is this enough to make you click the off button on the remote? I hope so. May I suggest a nice family meal at a table with no distractions and perhaps a walk after dinner to the local park? Let me know your thoughts, Lisa

About Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson here. I've been a personal trainer since 1997, a Pilates instructor since 1998 and the owner of Modern Pilates since 1999. I'm hoping to give you some good ideas to get or stay in shape with a healthy dose of humor and reality. Thanks for joining me.

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9 Responses to TV Makes You Fat: An Update

  1. Heather Claus May 6, 2010 at 8:10 am #

    I have lived without a TV for much of my adult life. That said, it is SO difficult to avoid it when it is on for me. I am sucked into the movement and noise. Even in bars, I get distracted by televisions around.

    I think the key is TV or no, we have to just commit to movement. With DVR, TIVO, Netflix and the like – it will always be there – and without the commercials.

    In fact, can you imagine getting home from work and starting your DVR recording, and working out for an hour… Most people would still be able to get in their full night of television and not miss a thing by simply skipping the commercials.

    Good post, and much food for thought!


  2. Dennis Charles May 6, 2010 at 9:35 am #


    Great that you are putting this out there. We have a household with 5 kids and no TV (bucking the stats a little). The kids don’t miss it one bit. They are active, play games, are creative and we get into super-heated debates over the dinner table. We were eating out a couple of weeks ago and the TV was on. One of the kids asked to turn it off and the waitress nearly fainted. Then she said she couldn’t because other diners were watching :)

  3. Sagan May 6, 2010 at 12:32 pm #

    *shudder* Frightening stuff, but it’s awesome to know the statistics.

    I am currently holding onto a TV for my sister while she’s overseas, but it isn’t even plugged in- it just sits in a corner for her to claim when she comes home in a couple months. I never watch TV so it will be really nice to no longer have a TV in my house. Something that irks me is the way that when you walk into nearly anyone’s home, the living room is designed around the TV… the couch and chairs all face it. I’m quite happy to have people over and to look at EACH OTHER rather than to stare at a TV!

  4. Wendy Maynard May 6, 2010 at 2:57 pm #

    I never can figure out who has time for TV. I’m so busy all the time. But, oh right, I’m an entrepreneur. LOL. It’s not very good family time sitting around the box – I much prefer your suggestion of a walk.

  5. Lisa Johnson May 6, 2010 at 8:00 pm #

    Wow, Dennis, go you and your kids for picking other activities!

    Sagan, I do have a TV room with a big ‘ole 42″ plasma staring back at us as we sit on the couch. I watch a bit, almost always taped so I can zoom through the commercials. I barely watched TV before I met my husband but he’s the kind of guy who was raised with it always on in the background as white noise. To only have one TV is actually a bit of an accomplishment. Although we barely watch it in the summer, we only watch current shows, not drivel …

    Wendy, I know what you mean about not having enough time to watch TV, but most people actually organize their lives around TV shows …


    Thanks so much for the comments,


  6. Mike Kirkeberg June 13, 2010 at 7:17 pm #

    How can you say tv makes you fat? What about all the thumb exercise you get using the remote control! Fellow 3t er

  7. Lisa Johnson June 14, 2010 at 8:03 am #

    Heh, thanks Mike … you have definitely just solved the world’s obesity problem ;-) L–

  8. Health Votes September 28, 2010 at 11:46 am #

    Yeah, we waste much more time watching tv than we spend with family, a good way of wasting valuable time after all those reality shows or useless breaking news stories do not contribute anything good. But seriously, more tv than people?

    I do watch a lot of Tv myself, and the worst of it is, i watch tv while eating, i know it is a really bad habit but i just can’t give it up :( but i try to make it up for the extra calories that i eat up while watching tv (snacks and stuff…)

  9. Lisa Johnson September 28, 2010 at 1:17 pm #

    The idea is to think of nutrients as something your body needs and TV as relaxing time and not to mix the two. And too much of anything, snacks or TV is a bad thing. Like my Dad always said, “all things in moderation.”

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