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Has Television Made Us Fat?

What is the most popular activity on the face of the Earth, no holds barred? Why, it's TV of course! No other activity even comes close to the popularity of TV. We watch it, talk about it, pattern our behavior after it, laugh and cry because of it, and have it in nearly every household in America. Ponder a few of the following facts about TV: The average TV viewer will see an estimated 20,000 commercials every year. That's about 55 commercials each day. All the while we watch TV our perceptions about self-image, a healthy lifestyle and human behavior are being slowly and systematically changed, and in some cases, distorted. American youth watch an average of 1,023 hours of TV yearly, while they only spend about 900 hours in school.

In year 2000, a National Assessment of Educational Progress report found that students who watch TV the most also suffer the most academically. According to a year 2000 National Institute on the Media and the Family report, a child can develop brand loyalty by age 2. This seems incredibly disturbing. A 1999 Senate Judiciary Committee Staff Report found that by age 18, the average American has seen 200,000 acts of violence on TV, including 16,000 murders. Much of television advertising targets children because promoters know they are less discerning and more easily influenced than adults.

And not surprising, children often insist that their parents purchase what they see advertised on TV. The food industry spends billions of dollars on TV advertising because they know it produces results. When we see and hear the advertisements often enough, we eventually buy the products. Even dinnertime, the traditional family catchup period, has been transformed by TV, with many families opting to dine on fast food and take-out, rather than home cooked meals. I am not saying everything about television is detrimental, but it seems to do more harm than good. Life beyond the filtered screen seems much more educational, interesting and entertaining. The good news is, that any environmental or behavioral influence (including TV) on a persons habits can be changed, but it takes determination and work. Just for fun, see if any of the following apply to YOU! We fall asleep doing it. We do it first thing in the mourning. We are challenged by it.

We are isolated by it. We eat while doing it. We eat because of it. We ignore other people while we are doing it. We laugh at it. We cry at it. We get angry at it. We are bored by it. We are entertained by it. We pay to do it.

We must have the latest technical equipment to do it. We use it to relax. We use it as a babysitter. We consciously pattern our behavior after it. We are subconsciously influenced by it. We do it whenever, wherever, and however we want. We bring sex and violence into our homes while we do it. We use it to keep us company when we are alone. We are misled by it. We are lead by it.

We envy other people we see while doing it. We argue about it. We do other things while we listen to it in the background. We do it to educate ourselves. We do it to introduce ourselves to far away places. We do it to stay informed. We brag about doing it. We complain about doing it. We gossip about it.


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