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Tune In to a Healthier You

Time to Turn Off Those TV's!

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 How often do you come home from a hard day, only to plop on the couch and "relax" in front of the TV? If you find it hard to escape the sights and sounds of the tube, or if watching your favorite show turns into more wasted hours than you planned, you're not alone. Americans watch TV for an average of 4 hours every day; even when we're not watching, the television is on--for almost 8 hours a day in the average home. Have you ever realized how much TV has become a part of our lives? Here are some more startling facts, from the non-profit organization, TV-Turnoff Network

40% of Americans always or often watch TV while eating dinner.
  • Eating dinner or snacking in front of the TV is linked to overeating and dissatisfaction. When you're distracted, you're not mindful of the meal you are eating, causing you to eat more without realizing it or really enjoying your food. Turn off the TV (and other distractions like the computer or the phone), and you'll savor that portion-controlled meal.
50% of US households have 3 or more TVs.
  • When you have more TVs, chances are, more of your family members are watching- instead of spending quality time together, doing homework, and being active.
By age 65, the average American has seen 2 million TV commercials.
  • Many of the commercials we see show appetizing foods-fast food, junk food, soda, alcohol, sugary cereals, and candy. Think "out of sight, out of mind."
The average American youth spends about 900 hours per year in school, and over 1,000 hours per year watching TV.
  • While you can't place all the blame on TV, soaring rates of childhood obesity are a result of both poor nutrition and an inactive lifestyle. Limit the amount of time your kids (and yourself, leading by example) watch TV and encourage more physical activity like walking the dog, helping with yard work, playing sports, or other active hobbies.
  • In a 2008 Canadian study, researchers from the University of Toronto found that kids who watched TV while eating lunch consumed 228 extra calories than those who ate without the television on. Harvey Anderson of the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (the organization that funded the study) believes that watching TV leads to mindless eating. By focusing on TV instead of a meal, kids (and adults) are less likely to notice feelings of fullness. Continued ›
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About The Author

Jen Mueller Jen Mueller
Jen received her master's degree in health promotion and education from the University of Cincinnati. A mom and avid marathon runner, she is an ACE-certified personal trainer, health coach, medical exercise specialist and behavior change specialist. See all of Jen's articles.

Member Comments

  • My tv is off more than it is on. My grandchildren turn it on when they come to visit. It has been off for several days since my grandson was here, and won't likely come back on until my granddaughter visits this weekend. I am guilty of spending too much time on my computer, but if I turn it off I won't be able to visit sparkpeople, pay my bills, or do necessary work. I know I am often on it much longer than necessary, but I would not be able to turn it off for any length of time because there are things I must do online on a regular basis. - 4/15/2016 3:54:56 AM
  • When the TV is off, the whole family is usually sucked into smart phones, laptops, or tablets. At least if we're watching TV we actually talk to each other. Small screen times end up being silent in the house.

    It's easy to say not to allow any screens, but the kids' homework (and schoolwork) is done on laptops/tablets/i
    nternet - they don't even have text books anymore. So there's a balance between letting the family be tech-savvy in today's world and completely unplugging. - 3/2/2016 1:18:47 PM
  • It looks like the new website for TV Turn-Off Week is http://www.screen and this year, the week chosen is May 2-8. - 1/26/2016 10:15:50 AM
  • Tossed out the TV some 30 years ago . . . haven't missed it a bit.

    So much more of life to experience . . . who needs a laugh track and a bunch of talking heads telling ya what to think?!

    Get outside and live today! - 12/1/2015 7:31:15 PM
    We aren't great TV watchers, but I've noticed we've all switched to smaller screens instead. Phones, tablets and laptops. Crazy. Thanks for this reminder to get up and do something else instead. - 9/29/2015 9:32:36 AM
  • TV for the most part is off for me, its a giant ad or reality TV junk I have no interest in! - 11/12/2014 6:28:53 AM
  • I'm more of a computer junkie! The TV is only on for about an hour a day but the PC is on constantly! I need to change that! - 7/30/2014 7:26:56 AM
  • I did this 12 years ago and haven't turned on the TV since except to catch some breaking news. I need to adapt this for the computer though. - 2/12/2013 11:14:44 AM
  • My problem is more the computer than the TV. I do watch some TV, but I am in front of the computer almost constantly. It's so bad, I don't know what I would do without it... and not just at work, but even on my own time! - 11/12/2012 10:06:12 PM
  • DOINITRIGHT2012 TV for over 4 years, and we don't miss it a bit. I wouldn't have time to watch it if we did. - 11/10/2012 7:49:55 PM
  • I beginning to feel the same way about the computer, facebook, etc. In our house we call everything electronic (computer, tv, video games, etc.) "screen time" and we have to limit it. It's always amazing to me how I will sit down to watch one thing and get sucked into countless others. It's designed to do that, I suppose. - 11/10/2012 1:44:06 PM
  • I have 3 TV's in my house, with no cable or antenna which = static. I can watch Netflix on one TV. Seldom is the television on. I probably watch 1 hour of TV a day on average. I don't have time for more. But there was a time in my life when I watched about 12 shows a week, and then some. Probably spent 4 hours in front of the TV a day. - 11/10/2012 1:42:37 PM
  • Ditto. Haven't had TV in more than 30 years.

    People are amazed and ask questions like "what do you do?" to which we reply: talk to each other; take a walk, take a ride, read a book, and the list goes on.

    We have a couple TVs which are hooked up to dvd players for music, exercise videos, etc.

    Move it!!! - 11/10/2012 1:09:43 PM
    When I moved out of my parents, I didn't think twice about buying a TV. I feel like I'm wasting so much time just sitting on the couch, staring at a screen, watching the dumbest stuff. Also I don't like that I often find myself feeling like I HAVE to watch some TV series because "everyone" watches them. When my boyfriend moved in, He bought a TV but we only use it once a week to watch a movie. - 11/10/2012 10:05:28 AM
  • I was on my death bed watching tv. I gave it away, became bored and started to move around. If we can't turn the tube off, get rid of it! Our health is more important! - 10/3/2012 11:36:56 PM

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