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Asthma Risk Linked To Early TV Viewing 266

Ponca City, We love you writes "The number of children with asthma has been rising for many years. About 1 in 10 children in the UK develop asthma, compared with about 1 in 25 in the 1960s. The reason for this isn't clear, although several theories have been put forward such as keeping our homes cleaner, and having central heating and more soft furnishings where house dust mites can multiply. Now based on more than 3,000 children whose respiratory health was tracked from birth to 11.5 years of age, researchers have found a new correlation with young children who spend more than two hours glued to the TV every day doubling their subsequent risk of developing asthma. 'This study has shown for the first time a positive association between increased duration of reported TV viewing in early childhood and the development of asthma by 11.5 years of age in children with no symptoms of asthma in early childhood,' said the researchers, led by A. Sherriff, from the University of Glasgow. It's not clear exactly how sedentary behaviors like television watching are tied to asthma, but there is some evidence to suggest exercise and deep breaths that come with it stretch the smooth muscles in the airways, while lack of exercise may make the lungs overly sensitive. The results add asthma to a catalog of undesirable outcomes, including obesity, diabetes, smoking, and promiscuity, tied to TV viewing."
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Asthma Risk Linked To Early TV Viewing

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  • Promiscuity (Score:5, Funny)

    by BlackusDiamondus ( 945259 ) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @01:57AM (#27146467) Homepage
    Wow, so promiscuity is now considered an undesirable outcome? Perhaps from a religious morals point of view...
    • Re:Promiscuity (Score:4, Insightful)

      by timmarhy ( 659436 ) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @02:04AM (#27146509)
      promiscuity would be an advantagous trait, not a defect. this "research" seems highly suspect.
      • by Firehed ( 942385 ) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @02:45AM (#27146751) Homepage

        For an 11-year-old? Um... ok, if you say so.

        • RTFA.
    • Re:Promiscuity (Score:4, Insightful)

      by drDugan ( 219551 ) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @02:12AM (#27146571) Homepage

      beat me to the point...

      "promiscuity" being "undesirable" seems in line with the absurd overly-judgmental attitudes toward sex promoted by the far right and the religious zealots

      IMO people would be a *lot* better off being taught healthy norms about sex and encouraged to have more healthy sex - instead of the story that it is somehow bad and needs to be restricted, hidden and controlled by shaming people

      • Actually, promiscuity is simple hedonism - it's empty and leads to a lonely place. The loss of shame leads to many, many social ills. The "if it feels good, do it" philosophy is bunk. The hippies had in mind something that they wanted, and were calling it "freedom," but in the final analysis "freedom" is a purely negative goal. It just says something is bad. Hippies weren't really offering any alternatives other than colorful short-term ones, and some of these were looking more and more like pure degen
        • War is peace, etc... we know.

        • by Kokuyo ( 549451 )

          Hedonism... I think the word does not mean what you think it means.

          Promiscuity, as far as I understand it, just means that you change partners. It does not say how often and it does not say in what situations. It therefore also does not say anything about the value of these relationships.
          Hedonism is supposed to be a world-view that puts the consumption at the top of one's priorities. It is supposed to be selfish.

          That you equate the two shows that you either do not understand their meanings or have, in my op

          • In the course of my life I've changed "partners" several times. I had a partner in elementary school who I called my "best friend", I had another in middle/high school, another in college, another in grad school, and yet another in my workplace.

            I suppose that makes me promiscuous, but I don't care. Each one of my best friends/partners gave me fulfillment at each stage of my life. I don't see anything wrong with that.

          • But it is hard to deny that most people DO enter purely sexual relationships with selfish intentions. It feels good and they want to do it. I'm not saying either extreme (very conservative or promiscuous) is right, just pointing out that the types of relationships you and the parent poster were referring to may be quite different.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          >>>promiscuity is simple hedonism - it's empty and leads to a lonely place.

          Yeah. So? I like leading an empty and lonely life. In fact, it's why I chose engineering. Who are YOU to judge my lifestyle? Jeez. "Lord, save me from your servants trying to control my life and my choices. Thanks."

          /end sarcasm

        • Re:Promiscuity (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Ephemeriis ( 315124 ) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @09:05AM (#27148969)

          Actually, promiscuity is simple hedonism

          Promiscuity != Hedonism

          Promiscuity is a "large" number of sexual partners. Large being purely subjective in this case. Just because someone is labeled as promiscuous does not mean that they're sleeping with a different person every night, nor does it mean that there's no value attached to the sex that they have. People in long-term, loving multiple-partner relationships are often labeled as promiscuous.

          Hedonism is seeking pleasure above all else, that feeling good is your highest calling. This doesn't necessarily mean sex - it can also mean drugs, alcohol, food, whatever. And, yes, pursuing your own happiness/pleasure at the expense of all else does lead to many ills - social and otherwise.

          The loss of shame leads to many, many social ills.

          Personally, I've found that shame is rarely useful.

          Shame comes in two flavors - your own, and everyone else's.

          Your own shame is typically a result of realizing you did something you probably shouldn't have. I find it is typically better to think things through the first time and avoid the shame alltogether. When I'm trying to make a decision "I might be ashamed" doesn't enter into it - "is it a good decision" does. And typically, if it's a good decision, there's no call for shame.

          Everyone else's shame is an attempt to get you to conform to what they think you should be doing. "You ought to be ashamed!" is someone telling you that you did something they don't like. Unless it's someone you genuinely value - your spouse or parent, for example - those are empty words. I personally couldn't care less whether some random person thinks I should be ashamed or not.

          The "if it feels good, do it" philosophy is bunk.

          If it feels good, why wouldn't you do it?

          Certainly doing it, whatever it may be, to excess is probably going to be bad. But in moderation, as a responsible human being, why not? Why not have sex? Why not eat cake? Why not drink beer? Why not go skiing? Why not read a book? Is there something inherently noble in depriving yourself of pleasure? Is there something wrong with enjoying yourself?

          Degeneracy can be fun but it's hard to keep up as a serious lifetime occupation.

          Most of the time "degeneracy" is a subjective label. If you agree with what someone is doing, to the extent that they're doing it, they're OK. If you don't agree with it, or if they're doing it too much, they're degenerate. And what exactly we label as "degenerate" is strongly influenced by our own morals and values - not any objective analysis.

          If someone likes to read books, are they degenerate? What if they go through a book every single night? What if they avoid social contact in favor of reading? What if they get so hooked on reading that it starts affecting their work? What if they just can't put down a book during lunch and never get that TPS report done? Are they degenerate? Somehow that word just doesn't seem to fit, does it? Addicted maybe... They've certainly got issues... But degenerate?

          Now what if they really like having sex? What if they have sex with someone different every night? What if they spend all their time trying to hook up with a new partner? What if their sexual encounters start affecting their work? What if they get caught fooling around with someone during lunch? I'm guessing the world "degenerate" seems a lot more fitting in this case.

          Most of the western world (not just the US) has been conditioned by immersion in Judeo-Christian values to view sex as somehow separate from normal life activities. It's something secret, sacred, or dirty that polite people don't really talk about. It's something that should only happen between married couples... Or something that should only happen with a certain frequency... Or something that shouldn't involve people of the same gender, or power tools, or animals, or chains, or whatever... Sex has values and judgments attached to it that eating, for example, doesn't. Yet both of those are completely natural, and often pleasurable, parts of human existence.

        • by Hatta ( 162192 )

          If you're feeling empty and lonely, you're not a very good hedonist. There's nothing wrong with being a hedonist, pleasure is good, pain is bad. You just have to be sure your strategy is to maximize total lifetime pleasure, instead of trading future pleasure for immediate pleasure. A real hedonist who values pleasure above all else would realize that the greatest pleasure comes from making others happy.

        • Really? I know a lot of former hippies that turned out just fine. Go to a folk festival some time. You'll see plenty of hippies who are quite happy.
      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        While not inevitable, promiscuity DOES increase the risks of several undesirable outcomes substantially.

    • by rrohbeck ( 944847 ) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @02:21AM (#27146621)

      Just my thought.
      I should have watched more TV as a child. Damn.

    • Wow, so promiscuity is now considered an undesirable outcome? Perhaps from a religious morals point of view...

      I'm guessing that it's the outcome you're likely to be able to achieve if you manage to dodge obesity, diabetes, smoking, and too much TV viewing.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @01:58AM (#27146475)

    It's an interesting result that certainly warrants further study but IMHO everything about this study just screams "correlation is not causation".

    What if healthier kids just enjoy playing outside more? What if healthier parents (who didn't have asthma themselves as children) encourage their kids to play outside more. What about kids in urban environments with high levels of air pollution who don't really have anywhere to go outside to play (without getting shot in a drive-by).

    • by rrohbeck ( 944847 ) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @02:30AM (#27146673)

      Exercise has been proven to reduce Asthma. It can even fix it in adults although it has to be dosed very carefully. There are elite runners (can't remember a name though) who started running to curb their Asthma.

      • by Suisho ( 1423259 ) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @02:53AM (#27146791)
        I don't think this is necessarily completely true. I have exercise induced asthma, which, means basically the harder I breathe the more constricted my airways become. >.> But- I was encouraged to do specific breathing exercises (especially as a child), and I did do sports with an excessive amount of medication. I think this might be true for some...but I don't know of any particular studies.
        • I played with farm animals when I was a child (cows, horses, goats, rabbits). I ran through hayfields and cornfields and often ended-up covered head-to-toe with pollen. I'm now immune to any smell, and have no allergy to anything.

          Perhaps I should recommend the farm lifestyle to more people - exposure leads to immunity.

          • I played with farm animals when I was a child

            So you're from Perry County then?*&**

            *I know you're from PA, as am I, so just joking. Don't know if you're local to me.

            ** Inside joke for those from Central PA. Soft of like folks from Vermont/New Hampshire who wear boots and work around sheep
        • by e2d2 ( 115622 )

          Agreed, it's gonna depend on a person's triggers.

          I have had asthma since I was 5 (I am now 34) and I ride 10 miles a day on my bicycle and exercise regularly. It hasn't gotten any better for me because mine is exercise-induced (along with other triggers like cold air), specifically the bouncing motion of running, that causes an attack. How do I know this? A few days of study by the US army to determine my triggers at Ft. Knox when I was there during basic.

          The simple fact is there is very little known about

    • by Bootarn ( 970788 )

      I have a theory.

      Scientists say that there is a correlation between growing up in a relatively dust-free environment and developing asthma. Kids who are playing outside are exposed to dust and don't become hypersensitive to it, whereas kids who spend much time in front of the TV are rarely exposed to outside dust, and so they develop asthma.

    • by jandersen ( 462034 ) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @05:16AM (#27147625)

      everything about this study just screams "correlation is not causation".

      I think what scream loudest in this case is that you are uncomfortable with the implications; perhaps there are things in your lifestyle you don't want to change?

      Taken in isolation this kind of study does seem a little bizarre, and the way it is presented in the popular media doesn't help either, when it is reported as if it was a kind of joke. However, it is part of a growing trend that seems to indicate that a lot of illnesses are actually lifestyle diseases, and there is growing evidence that one common factor is inflammation - or the presence of certain indicators of inflammation, I should say. Inflammation seems to lie behind such things as atherosclerosis, insulin resistence, and of course it is known to a major symptom in asthma. The adipose tissues of obese people seem to be the seat of low-level inflammation too, or something very similar. Now, I don't know about you, but when I see all these things together, I don't think it is all that unlikely that sitting in front of the telly instead of getting up and about actually is a major causative factor in these lifestyle diseases, asthma included.

      It is also well-known that exercise actually is a very effective way of lowering the levels of inflammation in places where you don't want it - perhaps because exercise actually causes low-level damage to muscles and connective tissue; this sort of draws the attention of the body's repair system away from the places where it is not actually supposed to be. Inflammation is an important part of the repair system, which is why muscles get sore from exercise.

    • by Tellarin ( 444097 ) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @05:27AM (#27147673) Homepage Journal

      So you took the same course as this guy? []

    • by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @06:25AM (#27147963) Homepage

      Lazy parents who use the TV as a baby sitter for hours on end are also likely to be lazy when it comes to preparing healthy meals and resort to take away meals and junk food snacks. Also children that suffer from asthma are likely to prefer less arduous activities, like watching TV, in order to reduce the risk of an attack.

      As for the growth in asthma, increasing levels of exotic pollutants (that generate hormonal reactions in people) plus the effects of junk food consumption during pregnancy are the most likely the culprits.

      Feeding neuro stimulant so called 'flavour enhancers' to unborn children is most likely not the brightest idea in the world and maybe the future health of an unborn generation should be put ahead of the profits of junk food and chemical additive manufacturers.

      • by Belial6 ( 794905 )
        Can I add Wall-to-Wall carpets. The massive increases in asthma seem to be correlated more with the move from hard floors to carpeted floors. Floors that are literally impossible to get clean. The floors that people put their babies face down on. That babies suck up stuff from literally like a vacuum cleaner.

        Of course the fact that it says "TV" is correlated with asthma when they mean "being seditary" shows a massive bias. We see these reports of how TV causes health problems because it makes you se
    • My thoughts exactly, other studies have also linked asthma to overly clean environments and obviously the more time inside, the less time outside gettting dirty. I also belive that obesity causes diabetes and smoking around children increases the risk of asthma, so if there is a correlation between obesity and TV watching and smoking and TV watching then the others probably follow. Lets be honest, smoking and obesity are very likely to reduce the inclination to get out and exercise, so the alternative is
  • by crumbz ( 41803 )

    From the summary "undesirable outcomes. . . smoking, and promiscuity, . . . [and] TV viewing."

    Wait, these are bad things?

    • From the summary "undesirable outcomes. . . smoking, and promiscuity, . . . [and] TV viewing."

      Wait, these are bad things?

      The summary states "tied to TV viewing". Don't know about you, but that sounds pretty bad to me!

  • Computers (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tttonyyy ( 726776 ) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @02:05AM (#27146525) Homepage Journal

    Presumably (as far as Asthma goes) the same applies to sitting in front of computers/sitting playing handheld games like the DS. Though it would be interesting to know whether that carries the same correlations with the other undesirable outcomes.

  • Filthy carpets (Score:4, Interesting)

    by G3ckoG33k ( 647276 ) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @02:28AM (#27146661)

    In another scientific article researchers link filthy carpets in the living room to asthma, but for some reason that article never made the headlines...

    • But there is no correlation between families with filthy carpets, and families that watch TV.

    • by AlHunt ( 982887 )

      >but for some reason that article never made the headlines...

      Great research is often buried. My definitive study, for instance, clearly shows there were NO nuclear bombs before America gave women the right to vote. But do I get any credit for this groundbreaking investigation? Not a bit. I just toil in obscurity ...

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by DrProton ( 79239 )

      You've got it backwards. Asthma is linked with excessive cleanliness. People who are raised on farms and exposed to a lot o dirt don't get asthma. Google "hygiene hypothesis asthma" sometime.

  • by Norsefire ( 1494323 ) * on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @02:31AM (#27146683) Journal
    100% of people who don't breath don't have Asthma.
  • by DeadboltX ( 751907 ) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @02:40AM (#27146733)
    Seems to me that time spent inside the home is the more likely culprit than viewed television hours, and that a higher rate of television viewing leads to an increased amount of time spent inside the home.
    • Good point. As the article states "The amount of time spent in front of the box was used as a proxy measure of sedentary behaviour, because personal computers and games consoles were not in widespread use at the time (mid 1990s)".
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by DrProton ( 79239 )

      I had the same thought. More time outside the home also exposes the child to more dirt, more bacteria, and more of the tiny little worms out there. The beneficial effect of this exposure is known as the hygiene hypothesis. Kids who grow up on farms and poor people living off the land don't get asthma and a whole host of immune system disorders. There was a recent article by Jane Brody in the New York Times [] about the hygiene hypothesis.

      Basically, a little dirt is good for you.

    • The "hygiene hypothesis" is one hypothesis to explain the prevalence of asthma among kids who stay indoors a lot. But that hypothesis doesn't explain the particularly high prevalence of asthma among black inner city kids--they don't live in particularly clean/fastidious environments. Turns out there's another hypothesis that's at least as plausible: Vitamin D deficiency.

      Being indoors a lot equates to a lack of adequate sun exposure, which causes Vitamin D deficiency, which is now epidemic. (And having dark

    • by tsstahl ( 812393 )
      Mod parent up.

      A sedentary lifestyle indoors is unhealthy; who'd a thunk it?

      In my day we had to breathe underwater and we were THANKFUL for the opportunity. Darn sissys.
  • well... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @02:56AM (#27146805)

    the other way to look at this is that kids with asthma spend time in front of the tv since running around outside may kill them

  • by Eil ( 82413 )

    Even though this study raises a lot more questions than answers, I can still hear the horde of TV apologists starting their stampede now...

    (Well, once the commercials come on, anyway.)

  • Well, depending on the day of the week (and weather) during the day, I was either outside for 10 to 12 hours, or in school followed by outside time, then about 3 hours TV in the evening. No asthma.

    Though I suppose all that outside activity had something to with with that.

  • Hmm... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by claybugg ( 1496827 ) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @03:21AM (#27146985)
    What about sitting still in a desk at school for hours each day?
  • It's so obvious that it's almost not worth having spent research money on it, but somebody has to prove even the obvious scientifically.

    It's a good, solid result: kids with asthma sit around inside a lot (by choice or parental "concern") and so watch a lot of TV.

    They wouldn't dare try to make the claim in the other direction, since it would be so easy for them to compare with kids that had the same condition but sat inside reading or doing other things instead of watching TV.

    If TV caused all these problems,

  • by Secret Rabbit ( 914973 ) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @06:13AM (#27147893) Journal

    I don't think that researchers understand the difference between causation and correlation.

    I'll buy that watching a lot of tv can lead to someone being overweight. After all, how many of use use a treadmill while watching our "stories." I'll buy that not exercising can have other outcomes such as (stretching it) asthma. Not working those lunges may indeed lead to problems for kids. But, this is hardly a conclusive study. Where's all the testing on the tissues themselves. Where ruling out other factors such as diet, air quality, etc? I know we got some of that tissue around that the lab guys can do tests on and while following people around for over a decade, it's hard to believe that they couldn't have noticed living conditions.

    But, obesity, diabetes, smoking and (especially) promiscuity?!?!? Bullshit. One must be susceptible to get diabetes and the TV cannot make one not exercise and smoke. And promiscuity?!?! PROMISCUITY?!?!? Perhaps these guys should get out of the lab and see just how many parents are NOT parenting there kids.

    Jesus christ. Talk about not seeing the forest for the trees.

    • by bigmouth_strikes ( 224629 ) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @06:54AM (#27148125) Journal

      > I don't think that researchers understand the difference between causation and correlation.

      Why is that ? Have you ever undertaken studies to become a researcher, perhaps at PhD or post-doc levels ? If you did and still believe this, then you should ask for your money back. Most such programs involve quite extensive theory behind how to calculate statistical association and correlation. Do you actually know anything on how this study was performed and how its findings was analyzed ?

      Perhaps you do, but the tone of your comment leads me to think that you have no idea and just think the summary sounded too far-fetching for your liking.

    • After all, how many of use use a treadmill while watching our "stories." My wife and I have recently started doing this. It makes exercise much more interesting(being an activity I've never had much interest in on its own). I've worked up to burning about 450 calories 5 days a week.

      The promiscuity thing was an earlier study that linked teenage dramas with lots of discussion of sex and promiscuity to surprise: promiscuity.
  • Brainless research (Score:4, Interesting)

    by 4D6963 ( 933028 ) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @06:21AM (#27147941)

    OK no seriously now WTF. There's not a day without a health news story talking about some weird correlation between two factors that are obviously not directly related. What's a researcher these days, someone who gathers a whole bunch of data, looks for all the statistical correlation they can find and publish a paper as soon as they find "something", without using an ounce of critical thinking? It surely is how it sounds like.

    "So we took a whole bunch of people, alright, we asked them a whole bunch of random questions about their weight, their diet, their asthma, their TV watching habits, then we cross plotted them, let the computer program give us a correlation index and the one with the strongest correlation was asthma vs TV so we wrote a paper about it. As to the whyness of this correlation, meh, we don't really know, nor did we bother to establish a few hypothesises like "oh maybe it's due to socio-economic conditions i.e. poor people watch more TV and live in houses with asbestos hey let's try and find out", nah, we just care about writing a paper and making it buzz for all it's worth cause it's gonna look good on our CVs and you know it's going to work because people love senseless sensationalist drivel like "new research shows that learning to play the violin will make you live 6 years longer!" or "can eating pineapple make you gain IQ points?"."

    • by bigmouth_strikes ( 224629 ) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @07:02AM (#27148159) Journal

      Do you have any clue what's involved in doing scientific research, especially involving a large study such as the one in question (ALSPAC), involving 14000 children and their parents ? It sounds like you are questioning the scientific methods used in the study, which so far has resulted in over 300 peer-review academic papers, so it would be interesting to know what you base this on.

      Or is this just a knee-jerk reaction to something that's not obvious to you ?

      I'm not saying that you're out of your depth here, but I'll wager that you are.

      • by 4D6963 ( 933028 )
        Maybe you missed my point, my point is that it's like all these guys churn out is correlations. That's what you see in the news, correlations, "hey general public, we found a correlation, do whatever the fuck you want with it". It's not about the research so much as the results, mostly the ones we the general public are supposed to hear about.
        • Perhaps I am, but I believe that you're reading too much into the public release media material, which is a very watered-down version of the findings of the actual study.

    • >some weird correlation between two factors that are obviously not directly related. What's a researcher these days, someone who gathers a whole bunch of data, looks for all the statistical correlation they can find and publish a paper as soon as they find "something"

      But here's the thing: they did find "something", that is statistically significant. That means there *is* a direct relationship. That's the whole point of statistics. They're establishing that there's something going on, and then they go

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by 4D6963 ( 933028 )

        But here's the thing: they did find "something", that is statistically significant. That means there *is* a direct relationship.

        FAIL! It's not because there's a correlation that there's a direct relationship. Unless by direct relationship you mean A and B are linked by A<-C<-D->E->B, which I'd rather call "indirect". Let's say it goes like this : poor people are poor -> therefore their kids have a shitty education -> therefore they hardly know how to read or do anything creative -> th

  • Hmmmmm..... (Score:3, Informative)

    by IHC Navistar ( 967161 ) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @06:38AM (#27148035)

    " The results add asthma to a catalog of undesirable outcomes, including obesity, diabetes, smoking, and promiscuity, tied to TV viewing."

    Ok..... obesity, diabetes, and smoking I can definitely find true. Promiscuity, sort of, but only in the sense that it leads to a lack of knowledge about reality and people learning social norms through Big Media and Hollywood.

    Asthma, on the other hand, would require a whole hell of a lot more evidence, study, and explaination than simply correlation.

  • Sorry, but I got living proof of the cause of Asthma being bad food.

    A friend of mine had a bad Asthma every summer. He nearly suffocated without his inhalator.
    He found a book of some guy claiming that in decades of clinical experience, said that bad food was the reason.
    He gave it a try, and stopped eating anything denatured. No heated protein. No processed food. Most of all, no sugar / starch / white flour.
    And what do you know... That summer he did use that inhalator only one singe time. Next summer he had

  • "The results add asthma to a catalog of undesirable outcomes, including obesity, diabetes, smoking, and promiscuity, tied to TV viewing.""

    No, the results add asthma to a catalog of undesirable outcomes, including obesity and diabetes, tied to a sedentary lifestyle.

    Honestly, was this article summary written by this guy []?

The moon is a planet just like the Earth, only it is even deader.