Identifying subgroups of U.S. adults at risk for prolonged television viewing to inform program development

Am J Prev Med. 2010 Jan;38(1):17-26. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2009.08.032.


Background: Although adverse health effects of prolonged TV viewing have been increasingly recognized, little population-wide information is available concerning subgroups at greatest risk for this behavior.

Purpose: This study sought to identify, in a U.S. population-derived sample, combinations of variables that defined subgroups with higher versus lower levels of usual TV-viewing time.

Methods: A total of 5556 adults from a national consumer panel participated in the mail survey in 2001 (55% women, 71% white, 13% black, and 11% Hispanic). Nonparametric risk classification analyses were conducted in 2008.

Results: Subgroups with the highest proportions of people watching >14 hours/week of TV were identified and described using a combination of demographic (i.e., lower household incomes, divorced/separated); health and mental health (i.e., poorer rated overall health, higher BMI, more depression); and behavioral (i.e., eating dinner in front of the TV, smoking, less physical activity) variables. The subgroup with the highest rates of TV viewing routinely ate dinner while watching TV and had lower income and poorer health. Prolonged TV viewing also was associated with perceived aspects of the neighborhood environment (i.e., heavy traffic and crime, lack of neighborhood lighting, and poor scenery).

Conclusions: The results can help inform intervention development in this increasingly important behavioral health area.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Data Collection
  • Demography
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Assessment*
  • Television / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States