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Study: Watching TV takes years off your life, but...

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Watching TV zaps years from your life, according to new study making national headlines that isn’t quite being straightforward with you.

Researchers in Australia are reporting that, on average, every hour spent watching television after the age of 25 decreases the amount you live by 22 minutes.

“As a rule, the more time we spend watching TV, the more time we spend eating mindlessly in front of the TV, and the less time we spend being physically active,” explained Dr. David L. Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine to HealthDay.com. “More eating and less physical activity, in turn, mean greater risk for obesity, and the chronic diseases it tends to anticipate, notably diabetes, heart disease and cancer.”

Before you throw your soul-sucking flat screen out the window, here’s a key thing to remember:

TVs are not like the year-draining torture machine in The Princess Bride. This study measures a casual lifestyle correlation — people who watch a lot of TV, on average, die younger than those who do not.

In other words: You don’t kick off early because you’re watching TV, but because you’re also not doing other things — like, say, eating right and exercising. Which, as any viewer of The Biggest Loser and Dr. Oz knows, is pretty important. It’s not the TV itself that’s the problem; it’s if you use TV as a heavy substitute for having an otherwise healthy and rounded life. If people do any sedentary activity long enough — reading, online shopping, building ships in bottles — you could probably plug it into this poll and obtain at least a somewhat similar result.

So the researchers in the story go too far when they say this: “The statistics suggest that too much TV may be as dangerous as smoking and lack of exercise in reducing life expectancy.”