Take TV-free days to combat obesity (UK)

The Guardian 23 September 2014
Draft health advice on obesity has recommended taking TV-free days or setting two-hour limits on the amount of time spent sitting in front of screens.

The advice, aimed at helping the population to keep weight off as well as losing it, says the long hours many of us spend watching TV or staring at screens prevent us being active – and many people snack as they watch.

The guidance from Nice (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) urges people to set limits for the sake of their health. “Any strategy that reduces TV viewing and other leisure screen time may be helpful (such as TV-free days or setting a limit to watch TV for no more than two hours a day),” it says.

The Nice guidance, which now goes out to consultation, is aimed at public health advisers. With 62% of the population overweight or obese, there is great concern for the nation’s health.

Excess weight carries increased risks of heart attacks, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers, including breast cancer. Obesity cost the NHS an estimated £16bn in 2007 and is forecast to rise to £50bn by 2050.

Nice says people should be encouraged to be more active. Brisk walking and cycling are good, as well as physical activity such as dance, sport or swimming in leisure breaks at work or school.