It’s the age of the internet and binge-watching is a real thing. The term even made it to the Oxford online dictionary in 2013.
binge-watch, verb: to watch multiple episodes of a television programme in rapid succession, typically by means of DVDs or digital streaming. [ORIGIN 1990s: from BINGE + WATCH, after BINGE-EAT, BINGE-DRINK.]
‘Binge-watch’ may soon be making its way into medical dictionaries as well. Like binge-eating and binge-drinking, consuming copious quantities of TV shows is proving to be very bad for the health. Settling down on a comfortable couch with episode after episode of the best American drama on your preferred streaming website or Tata Sky can result in a fatal lung condition.
There are many theories surrounding the popularity of binge-watching. Some say the practice allows heightened exposure and feelings of connectedness with the characters. Others argue that it is part of a cultural zeitgeist and a person who doesn’t binge-watch is often left out of conversations with other who are all caught up with the latest episodes.
Either way, it’s the sitting down to binge-watch that’s causing problems. Results from an 18-year study from Osaka University in Japan now shows that watching an average of five or more hours of television per day could lead to a blocked artery in the in lungs and pulmonary embolism. Pulmonary embolism is associated with long-haul flights where people are stay in their seats for hours on end.
The Osaka University public health researchers studied three groups of TV-watchers – those who spent less than 2.5 hours per day watching TV, those who watched for between 2.5 and 4.9 hours, and those who camped out in front of the TV for five or more hours. In the years of follow up, 59 people across the groups died of pulmonary embolism but people who watched more than five hours of TV per day had twice the risk of people who spent less than 2.5 hours doing the same.
Another study from the University of Pittsburgh found that every hour spent sitting can increase the risk of diabetes by 3.4%. For a daylong TV-watching binge, that risks spikes up to 30%.
Take a break, stand up, walk around and drink water to prevent fatal outcomes of this lifestyle disease, health experts advise.
On a lighter note, a droll public service message has America’s celebrities sharing a whole new set of dangers associated with binge-watching – mixing episodes of different shows confuses your brain, you might find yourself narrating the world’s longest story to imaginary people, and you might get paranoid and suspect conspiracy theories all around you. They also have a specific warning against binge-watching CNN – you might never finish!