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TV-WATCHER’S PHYSIQUE GOES DOWN TUBES

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Male couch potatoes attached to their television sets are more likely to be overweight, a Brigham Young University study says.

Larry Tucker, director of BYU's health promotion program, found that adult men who watched more than three hours of TV daily were twice as likely to be obese as those who watched less than an hour each day.Among the "super obese," or those with more than 31 percent body fat, the correlation between the two factors was even higher.

"There was a very systematic and significant relationship between TV watching and obesity," Tucker said.

"The findings of this study and other recent research show that the impact of television on the lifestyles and health of Americans cannot be ignored."

Tucker and Glenn Friedman of Health Advancement Services in Tempe, Ariz., published their research in the American Journal of Public Health based on a sampling of 6,000 employed U.S. men.

While the study doesn't indicate TV viewing "causes" obesity, fatness may be related to "the passivity of television viewing, as well as its relationship to snacking and perhaps to poor eating habits," Tucker said.

"Television viewers are bombarded by thousands of messages for non-nutritious foods, and it is possible frequent viewers consume significantly more calories than their counterparts and hence are more obese."

Tucker admits his research may indicate that obese people simply watch more television than thinner people. And, while it will take additional study to pinpoint the reasons behind the statistics, he said the study may suggest changes in lifestyle that could promote weight loss and fitness.

"If you could cut back an hour a day of TV viewing and use it for positive lifestyle activities like exercising, you would notice a change in overall health," he said.

"It may be that the obese people in this study found they didn't have time to exercise. They could make time by eliminating an hour of television each day."