Older Aussies are ‘couch potatoes’

Source: Shutterstock.

Photo: Source: Shutterstock.

Too much time in front of the television could be putting older Australians at risk of Type 2 diabetes, researchers have found.

The University of Queensland study found Australians aged over 60 years watched on average four hours of television a day, about an hour longer than younger adults.

The researchers found people's risk of developing metabolic disease increased with each hour in front of the TV.

Study leader Dr Paul Gardiner, from the university's School of Population Health, said previous studies had focused on the amount of television children watched.

Dr Gardiner encouraged older age groups to engage in light activity like folding washing while watching TV could reduce the risk of developing metabolic syndrome, a group of cardiovascular disease predictors linked to the onset of Type 2 diabetes.

“Reducing sedentary behaviour may be a feasible and practical way for older adults to improve their health and may be particularly important for those whose health or physical functioning limits their participation in moderate-intensity physical activity,” he said in a statement.

The study surveyed 2,000 elderly Australians and Dr Gardiner will continue his research with an intervention program involving elderly people who have reduced sitting time by about 30 minutes a day.

Dr Gardiner will examine whether this translates into health benefits and will present his findings to the World Congress of Active Ageing in Glasgow next month.