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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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  • 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...

  • 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.
  • 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

  • Re:Thank you. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by triffid_98 ( 899609 ) * on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @04:29AM (#27147347)
    I don't quite see what poor air quality has to do with it. Air quality in the 1960's was nothing to get excited about. In first world countries air quality has generally improved quite a lot since then.

    In fact, I'm tempted to think the opposite. An overly sterile environment has been theorized to repress childhood immune systems, causing them to become overly sensitized to pollens, dust, etc.

    This is their bullshit excuse for fucking up the world's air quality. "See, it's not all the coal power plants and diesel trucks, you're watching too much TV!"

  • 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.

  • 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 @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.

  • 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.

  • Re:Promiscuity (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @10:03AM (#27149669) Homepage Journal
    Who needs research?

    I think even a little common sense would show that kids need to be outside playing, and getting exercise that comes naturally from that!!

    When I grew up...during the summers off school...I was up and out about 9-10am...playing with my friends in the neighborhood. Skateboarding around, swimming in the neighborhood pool, sometimes 'stealing' wood from local house construction, to build forts in the woods nearby, or skateboard ramps at the end of our street, riding bikes around, etc.

    We always had something to do....all my friends (I'm still in touch with most of the main ones I grew up with) were pretty much all raised by all of our parents, in that the group was always at one person's house or another.

    This was before cell phones...when I was really young (in the 10-12 range) I made sure and called home to check in with my Mom from wherever I was at. When both my parents were working..I'd call and check in during the day periodically at their workplace. Thing is....we were out and playing and doing something whenever possible.

    Granted, we only had 3-4 channels, but, while growing up, cable made it into our neighborhood, yet we still didn't spend 24/7 watching the damned thing, not during the days when there were things to do.

    Hell, when was the last time you saw a group of kids in someones's front yard playing "kill the man with the ball"?


  • by SlowGenius ( 231663 ) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @10:04AM (#27149677) Homepage

    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 skin, which is great for protection against melanoma and sunburn, turns out to be not so good when it comes to producing Vitamin D--particularly in northern latitudes.) Vitamin D deficiency has now been linked to tons of health problems--not just osteoporosis, but also many types of cancers, as well as depression, diabetes (both types), heart disease, autism, multiple sclerosis, and (among many other conditions--you guessed it) asthma.

    I'd recommend people check out for more info about Vitamin D in general. As to the specific links to asthma, well, I'd provide some links, but I'm guessing anybody who cares to look for more evidence can use Google as well as I can. :^)

  • Re:Filthy carpets (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DrProton ( 79239 ) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @11:00AM (#27150565)

    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.

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