Less couch time is all it takes to kickstart a healthy lifestyle, says study
NEW YORK, May 30 — Reducing one bad habit like watching too much TV could be all it takes to start a chain reaction that leads to a healthier lifestyle, suggests a new study out of the US.
That's the "simple but profound" conclusion of a new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, which found that a simple lifestyle change like getting off the couch and tearing oneself away from the TV could be all it takes to reduce mindless eating and junk food intake.
Because like many bad habits, screen time and unhealthy eating are behaviors that are closely related, researchers pointed out.
"Just making two lifestyle changes has a big overall effect and people don't get overwhelmed," said lead author Bonnie Spring in a statement.
Researchers present the finding as a simple solution to the obesity epidemic in the US, where weight loss strategies that preach hours of exercise and drastic dietary cuts can seem daunting for those who are overweight.
For the experiment, 204 adults aged 21 to 60 were tasked with treatments that combined measures like increasing their fruit and vegetable intake and physical activity with decreasing fat intake and sedentary leisure.
Participants were given an incentive of US$175 (RM553) for meeting the goals at the end of the three-week treatment.
But what surprised researchers most was what happened following the experiments, Spring said. In the six-month follow-up, the average servings of fruits and vegetables increased from a baseline of 1.2 a day to 5.5 during treatment and 2.9 post-treatment, while the average minutes spent sitting on their duffs went from 219.2 baseline to 89.2 during the treatment and 125.7 post-treatment.
About 86 per cent of participants also indicated they made a conscious effort to maintain the healthier lifestyle.
"We found people can make very large changes in a very short amount of time and maintain them pretty darn well," Spring said. "It's a lot more feasible than we thought."
Meanwhile, it's not just people's health that suffers from excess screen time and sedentary activity. According to a 2009 study in the journal Child Development, the presence of background TV resulted in a drop in the quantity and quality of interaction between parent and child. — AFP-Relaxnews