Saturday, January 15, 2011

Exercise may not outweigh health effects of "couch potato" recreation

A slightly more sophisticated repeat of some boring old epidemiological rubbish. It probably just shows that people who are not very well or not very vigorous do not exercise much. I suppose it's some comfort that they realized that but controlling for it needs almost Godlike knowledge. Epidemiology just does not enable causative inferences. You need double-blind studies

Spending too much leisure time in front of a TV or computer screen appears to dramatically increase the risk for heart disease and premature death from any cause, perhaps regardless of how much exercise one gets, according to a new study.

The analysis found that people who spend more than four hours daily on screenbased entertainment like TV, computer or videogames are more than twice as likely to have a "major cardiac event" involving hospitalization, death or both compared to people who spend less than two hours on such activities.

The research is published in the Jan. 18 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Billed as the first study to examine the association between screen time and nonfatal as well as fatal cardiovascular events, it also suggests metabolic factors and inflammation may partly explain the link between prolonged sitting and the risks to heart health.

"People who spend excessive amounts of time in front of a screen primarily watching TV are more likely to die of any cause and suffer heartrelated problems," said Emmanuel Stamatakis of University College London, who led the research. "Our analysis suggests that two or more hours of screen time each day may place someone at greater risk for a cardiac event."

Compared with those spending less than two hours a day on screenbased entertainment, the study found a 48 percent increased risk of allcause mortality in those spending four or more hours a day and a roughly 125 percent increase in risk of cardiovascular events in those spending two or more hours a day. These associations were independent of traditional risk factors such as smoking, hypertension, excess weight, social class, as well as exercise.

The findings have prompted authors to advocate for public health guidelines that expressly address "recreational sitting" especially as a majority of working age adults spend long periods inactive while commuting or slouched over a desk or computer.

"It is all a matter of habit. Many of us have learned to go back home, turn the TV set on and sit down for several hours it's convenient and easy to do. But doing so is bad for the heart and our health in general," said Stamatakis. "And according to what we know so far, these health risks may not be mitigated by exercise."

Stamatakis said the next step will be to try to uncover what prolonged sitting does to the human body in the short and longterm, whether and how exercise can mitigate these consequences, and how to alter lifestyles to reduce sitting and increase movement and exercise.

The study included 4,512 adults who were respondents of the 2003 Scottish Health Survey, a representative, household-based survey, researchers said. A total of 325 all-cause deaths and 215 cardiac events occurred during an average of 4.3 years of follow up.

Measurement of "screen time" included selfreported TV and DVD watching, videogaming, as well as leisure-time computer use.

The authors also said they took steps to rule out the possibility that ill people spend more time in front of the screen as opposed to the other way around. The authors excluded those who reported a previous cardiovascular event and those who died during the first two years of follow up just in case their underlying disease might have forced them to stay indoors and watch TV more often. Stamatakis and his team also adjusted analyses for [some] indicators of poor health, such as diabetes and hypertension.


NJ: Appeal lost in Denny’s sodium case

A state appeals court has shot down an appeal by a Tinton Falls man who tried suing Denny's restaurant chain over its sodium content.

Nick DeBenedetto, 49, filed a lawsuit claiming the chain wasn't upfront about the high-sodium content of its food. The appeals court upheld a lower court's dismissal of the case.

The three-judge appeals panel found that DeBenedetto couldn't prove Denny's had a defective or dangerous product, or that he was harmed.

DeBenedetto says he was being treated for hypertension and ate at Denny's about 10 times in the year before he filed the lawsuit.

New Jersey Press Media reports that a health, nutrition and food-safety advocacy group represented him in court.


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