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Couch potatoes, beware health risk

04 Nov 2015

Photo credit: The Straits Times 

Having a couch potato lifestyle increases the risk of heart disease among men aged 50 and above, a study of about 400 people has found. The participants who were Chinese men aged 50 and above, and had never had heart failure or a heart attack, were found to a higher body fat percentage, an indicator of coronary heart disease.  

Interestingly, the findings suggested that it was not due to sitting for long periods, as other sedentary activities such as playing computer games or having a desk-bound job did not result in the same health effects. 

The answer may therefore lie in what people do while watching TV that sets it apart from other sedentary behaviour, explains Associate Professor Tai E Shyong, from the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, the study's principal investigator. This could include snacking, for instance.  

"If you spend a lot of time watching television, it is important to watch your diet and exercise to avoid obesity," adds A/Prof Tai. Exercise remains beneficial for major health conditions and can mitigate other harmful effects of a sedentary lifestyle, such as diabetes risk. 

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