My wife and I have both lost weight recently. We thought it was because our toddler keeps us more active (and eating healthier foods). It might be because we just aren’t watching as much TV as we used to.
Researchers at the University of Vermont tracked the TV viewing habits of a small group of people. They chose 36 men and women who were either overweight or obese, and who watched 5 hours of TV a day (which is the US national average). For the study, 20 of those people had their TV viewing cut in half: they were given a weekly “allowance” of TV watching. When they exhausted their allotted hours, a device shut off the TV until the next week. Researchers tracked their movements for the six weeks of the study. According to the New York Times, the results weren’t what they were expecting:
To the researchers’ surprise, cutting back on television time didn’t have an effect on calorie consumption, nor did it change sleep habits. The group that watched less television did, however, move more, burning an average of 120 more a day than the control group.
It wasn’t that these people hit the gym with their extra free time: they simply did other things around the house: reading, playing with their kids, or doing chores. Researchers say this extra boost to their metabolism is the equivalent of walking more than 12 kilometers a week. The study suggests that limiting one’s media consumption may in fact have the same impact as limiting your caloric consumption.