Causes of Death Associated With Prolonged TV Viewing: NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study

Am J Prev Med. 2015 Dec;49(6):811-21. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2015.05.023. Epub 2015 Jul 26.


Introduction: TV viewing is the most prevalent sedentary behavior and is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer mortality, but the association with other leading causes of death is unknown. This study examined the association between TV viewing and leading causes of death in the U.S.

Methods: A prospective cohort of 221,426 individuals (57% male) aged 50-71 years who were free of chronic disease at baseline (1995-1996), 93% white, with an average BMI of 26.7 (SD=4.4) kg/m(2) were included. Participants self-reported TV viewing at baseline and were followed until death or December 31, 2011. Hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% CIs for TV viewing and cause-specific mortality were estimated using Cox proportional hazards regression. Analyses were conducted in 2014-2015.

Results: After an average follow-up of 14.1 years, adjusted mortality risk for a 2-hour/day increase in TV viewing was significantly higher for the following causes of death (HR [95% CI]): cancer (1.07 [1.03, 1.11]); heart disease (1.23 [1.17, 1.29]); chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (1.28 [1.14, 1.43]); diabetes (1.56 [1.33, 1.83]); influenza/pneumonia (1.24 [1.02, 1.50]); Parkinson disease (1.35 [1.11, 1.65]); liver disease (1.33 [1.05, 1.67]); and suicide (1.43 [1.10, 1.85]. Mortality associations persisted in stratified analyses with important potential confounders, reducing causation concerns.

Conclusions: This study shows the breadth of mortality outcomes associated with prolonged TV viewing, and identifies novel associations for several leading causes of death. TV viewing is a prevalent discretionary behavior that may be a more important target for public health intervention than previously recognized.

Trial registration: number, NCT00340015.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cause of Death*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • National Institutes of Health (U.S.)
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Television / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States

Associated data