Researchers at Simon Fraser University (SFU) have teamed up with international scientists to study the effects of television, cars and computers on developing nations and predict their influence over the evolution of their culture.
Data was provided by the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiological Study (PURE) on 150,000 adults in 17 nations who crossed the spectrum of upper to lower income classes.
The “interpretation” of the study reads: “The ownership of household devices increased the likelihood of obesity and diabetes, and this was mediated in part by effects on physical activity, sitting time and dietary energy intake. With increasing ownership of household devices in developing countries, societal interventions are needed to mitigate their effects on poor health.”
Questionnaires posed to the participants included wanting to know about their daily diet and physical activity; as well as their overall health.
Conclusions of lower-income households in the study :
• 400% increase in obesity
• 250% increase in diabetes
• 31% decrease in physical activity
• 21% increase in sitting
• 9 centimeter increase in waistlines
Indeed, those who own cars, computers and televisions in lower-income brackets of society are prone to sedentary lifestyles.
Scott Lear, professor of health sciences at SFU said: “With increasing uptake of modern-day conveniences – TVs, cars, computers – low- and middle-income countries could see the same obesity and diabetes rates as in high-income countries that are the result of too much sitting, less physical activity and increased consumption of calories.”
Lear pointed out that the study shows there is a “potentially devastating societal health care consequence” in these countries if left unchecked.
Last year, a study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the European Union’s Developmental Effects of Environment on Reproduction (DEER) project explained how men who watch more than 20 hours of television per week have lost half of their sperm count.
One hundred and eighty-nine men between the ages of 18 – 22 participated in the study. They were questioned about their exercise intake, diet; whether they smoked and how often they watch TV and provided a sperm sample.
The authors of the study explained: “The objective of this study was to evaluate the relationships between semen quality and both physical activity and TV watching among young, healthy men. We hypothesized that increased physical activity was associated with higher sperm count, concentration and motility, and a lower proportion of morphologically abnormal sperm. Furthermore, we hypothesized that increased TV watching time was associated with decreased semen quality parameters.”
Research showed that only 3 hours per day of sedentary behavior (including watching television) would cause dramatic reductions in sperm count development.
Exercise plays a big role in sperm development. Of the men questioned those who exercised more than 15 hours per week had a marked 73% higher sperm count than those who reported less than 5 hours of exercise per week.
A sedentary lifestyle will degrade the quality of sperm production, semen concentrations; as well as exercise oxygenates the blood and sperm and assists in preventing the degradation of cells.
Jorge Chavarro, co-author of the study and assistant professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, said: “The message is pretty clear. It makes sense to turn off the TV, and it makes sense to put on your running shoes or sports gear and get out there.”
Chavarro went on to explain that “more physical activity is better.”