New Study Says "Jersey Shore" Can Shorten Life Span (Not Really)

Dr. Lennert Veerman, a senior research fellow at the University of Queensland, is behind a report with conclusions dramatic enough to make a network executive quit and go work for a non-profit. His thrust is that shows such as "Jersey Shore" and "Big Brother" are so vapid and mindless that they can markedly reduce a person's life expectancy.

Yes, a daily regimen of a couple of episodes of "Jersey Shore," some "Hell's Kitchen," a couple of USA dramas and an hour each of Keith Olbermann and Sean Hannity can trim five years off someone's life.

Dr. Veerman did not go deeper and specify how much Ron and Sammi's relationship on "Jersey Shore," Gordon Ramsay's hellish rants or the extremes of Keith and Sean could be individually blamed and which may be the most poisonous.

He did offer some potentially helpful advice, noting that PBS and the BBC can actually make a person live longer.

And he recommended an immediate public service campaign warning of the risks some reality series pose and encouraging more viewing of "American Experience."



Actually, research from Dr. Veerman and several others is hardly that provocative. Its conclusions are more of the "dog bites man," ho-hum variety.

Dr. Veerman found that the amount of TV viewing in Australia in 2008 showed life expectancy can go down by 1.8 years for men and 1.5 for women (Lifetime less noxious than Spike?).

"While we used Australian data, the effects in other industrialized and developing countries are likely to be comparable, given the typically large amounts of time spent watching TV and similarities in disease patterns," the researchers wrote, according to HealthDay.

Also, the researchers found those watching an average of 6 hours of TV a day can expect life expectancy to be 4.8 years than those watching no TV (all three of them).

And on average, those in the important 25-to-54 demographic can expect that every hour of TV they watch will knock 22 minutes off their life (actually, it's everyone 25 and older).

The argument in the British Journal of Sports Medicine is rather intuitive, however: basically a sedentary life style increases the risk of all sorts of medical conditions.

Dr. David L. Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine, told HealthDay: "As a rule, the more time we spend watching TV, the more time we spend eating mindlessly in front of the TV, and the less time we spend being physically active.

"More eating and less physical activity, in turn, mean greater risk for obesity, and the chronic diseases it tends to anticipate, notably diabetes, heart disease and cancer."

Dr. Katz also said heavy TV watches may be "lonely, or isolated, or depressed, and these conditions, in turn, may be the real causes of premature mortality."

So, as much as parents would like to believe it, any TV-life expectancy risk has nothing to do with the content. Snooki is not to blame.

2 comments about "New Study Says "Jersey Shore" Can Shorten Life Span (Not Really)".
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  1. John Grono from GAP Research, August 17, 2011 at 8:06 p.m.

    On behalf of all Australians I'd like to apologise for this 'analysis'. Mind you ... Queenslanders are notorious for being different.

    The attribution of (linear) causality is unproven and bewildering.

    Key 'findings' were:

    * every hour of TV (once over 25) shortens your lifespan by 22 minutes. The average Aussie watches 3 hrs 11 mins of TV a day so every day they are 70 minutes closer to death.

    * every cigarettes shortens your lifespan by 11 minutes. So smoking a pack of 20 you just lost around 4 hours off your life. (Actually that could make sense).

    (and here's the clincher) ...

    * every 15 minutes of exercise you do per day increases your life span by 3 years. Now I know some triathletes that exercise 6 hours a day ... [grabs the calculator] ... that means their life expectancy by 72 years ... so they should live to around 150 ... cool !

    To verify the causality of TV viewing reducing your lifespan, the results of people who are sedentary non-TV viewers should be compared with the results of people who are sedantary TV viewers, THEN causality could be fairly attributed.

    (I'd also like to know which classification people who work out at the gym and watch TV while exercising, fit in to. By my rough calculation if they exercised on the treadmill for an hour they're up by around 2 hrs 38 minutes !)

  2. James Smith from J. R. Smith Group, August 18, 2011 at 7:07 p.m.

    John's 'Queenslander apology' is noted but the U.S. cable networks might just keep those folks in Q-land busy for a while. Perhaps they'd like to tackle "Ice Road Truckers," "Hillbilly Handfishing," or one of the auto repo shows. With all due respect to those involved in the above mentioned professions, I'm interested in an in-depth exploration of the lifestlye correlates of the core audiences for these 'new wave U.S.' programs.

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