Flat screens not doing us a fat lot of good

Tue, 17 Aug 2010 14:43:00 +1000

Increased television ownership is associated with a higher risk of being overweight or obese, Professor David Crawford, director of the Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition at Deakin University, said this month.

''Even for people who are quite physically active, the amount of television they watch increases their risk of unhealthy weight gain,'' he said.

Professor Crawford made his comments amid the revelation that the number of televisions in households will soon be more than the number of people living in them.

This is coming about as flat screens become cheaper.

A prime driver in the increased sales figures, according to industry research group GfK, was the World Cup, with more than 140,000 sold in the lead up to Australia’s first opening game against Germany.

“There’s an irony in that,” said Professor Crawford.

“People were buying the new televisions to watch some of the fittest athletes in the world, but in turn, these televisions could be contributing to their own reduced fitness levels.”

Sales of televisions larger than 40 inches recorded 75 per cent growth in the past year.

“The other growth surge unfortunately is around people’s waistlines,” Professor Crawford said.

“Figures like these make it more important for people to feature physical activity and a good diet in their lifestyle.

“Modern televisions are bringing all the features of the cinema right into people's homes and the temptation to just sit on the couch is a powerful one.

“As a society, whether that be at the Federal and State Government levels or in local communities, we need to be making sure we have in place those things that encourage people to eat sensibly and to safely take part in physical activity.

“Otherwise the ultimate costs to the community in dealing with the chronic health issues will be frightening.

“At C-PAN, our researchers have a vital role to play in helping provide policy makers with real solutions to the problems associated with poor nutrition and lack of physical activity.

“Our researchers have won international acclaim for their work, the most recent Marita Wallace, a PhD student supervised by Dr Aaron Russell and fellow student Jessica Stewart, supervised by Russell Keast.

“Marita has received a Travel Fellowship from the European Society for Muscle Research.

“This will allow her to present her work at the European Muscle Research Conference in Italy in September.

“This is a prize of much prestige, only 10 are awarded globally and Marita was the only recipient from Australia.

“Jessica won the Best Nutrition Presentation at the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology Convention for ‘Marked differences in gustatory and gastrointestinal sensitivity to oleic acid between lean and obese men’.

“This continues a string of success for Russell’s lab in recent years at AIFST, with both Sara Cicerale and Dhoungsiri Sayompark previous winners.”

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20th August 2012