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Medicine Media Television Science

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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  • 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).

  • 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.
  • 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

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @02:15AM (#27146585)

    But it does! I think what you meant to say is it does not equal causation. Which however is a completely redundant remark.

  • by American Terrorist ( 1494195 ) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @02:17AM (#27146591)
    What's the point of watching TV if it doesn't make babies? It might be entertaining for its participants, well, some of them anyway, but it doesn't actually accomplish anything useful. It's just self indulgence.
  • by saiha ( 665337 ) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @03:08AM (#27146881)

    "Correlation does not imply causation" is said in every topic that has any type of statistics. So while this may have been the first post about it in this topic, its quite redundant.

    The correlation coefficient is simply a tool.

  • 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?
  • 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 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 Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @06:29AM (#27147981)

    Just exactly how doesn't a comment that is posted to every goddamn science story not deserve to be modded "redundant"? It's the fucking model of redundancy, you drooling idiot.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @07:40AM (#27148363)

    Maybe asthma caused the sedentary lifestyle? If you are unable to run and ride like your friends and exercise is a chore because you can't breathe, a logical outcome is sitting more. Back in the days without TV you just sat around more outside, now kits sit inside watching TV.

  • Re:Promiscuity (Score:3, Insightful)

    by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @07:45AM (#27148395) Journal

    >>>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.

  • Really? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @09:14AM (#27149077)

    Well I'm 38, I have Asthma and you know what we never had a TV until I was 8 years old! Even then we went out to the country almost every weekend camping and the like, usually to place miles away from cities and towns! So put that in your stats and smoke 'em!

  • Re:Promiscuity (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geminidomino ( 614729 ) * on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @10:46AM (#27150337) Journal

    I don't know if you're older than I, or just didn't have cable (it's the "3 channels" bit that I'm taking as an indicator) but you're spot on.

    When I was growing up (80s), even though we had video games, we were social. Back then, you still had kids who would walk down the block, knock on his friends' door and ask if Joey could come out and play. Everyone had the story where they lost track of where they were going with their bikes and ended up in the next town. Or just beat the crap out of each other in the backyard with wiffle bats and snowballs.

    Nowadays, "Can Joey come out to play" has been replaced with fucking "play dates?" And they wonder about rising levels of depression in children? Part of the price of being an adult is being locked in inane, rigid structure. Why the hell subject a 7 year old to that? Let the kids be fucking kids, rather than soiling yourself when little Brittney wants to rollerskate because she might scrape her knee.

    Carlin was right. These people are fucked up, they're fucking up their kids, and in a single-digit number of generations, we're gonna be looking at a fucking society of Eloi.

  • by 4D6963 ( 933028 ) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @11:25AM (#27151041)

    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 -> therefore they spend their time watching TV. In parallel, they're poor -> therefore they live in shitty houses -> therefore they catch colds and infections because they have a poor insulation or whatever -> therefore they catch asthma (let's admit it makes sense).

    Considered all of that, how the fuck does that help to know that watching TV is correlated to asthma? Maybe it can be somewhere to start off for a researcher, but it can't be the fucking conclusion of their research, if you'll admit my hypothetical scenario, they should look for the true direct reasons for asthma, which would be the conditions of living of a certain class of people (to which something could actually be done to remedy to that asthma problem, i.e. the President decides to fix the insulation of every house in the fucking country) and not content themselves with some vague bullshit that the general public that this press release is meant to be read by would interpret as "so turning the TV will keep my kids more safe from asthma?!".

The best book on programming for the layman is "Alice in Wonderland"; but that's because it's the best book on anything for the layman.