Due to the growing number of Americans who are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, researchers are increasingly investigating the cause of this uptick and how people can avoid developing the condition.
One problem that numerous studies have pinpointed in the high number of type 2 diabetes diagnoses is the sedentary lifestyles that many Americans lead. A lack of physical activity, in addition to consuming the large food portions that are typical in the U.S., can lead to obesity. In turn, carrying extra weight can increase an individual's risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Recently, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association indicated that prolonged television-viewing time is one common practice that may contribute to unhealthy sedentary lifestyles or hinder individuals who have type 2 diabetes from proper diabetes management.
The researchers explained that in some parts of the world, people spend as much as half of their leisure time sitting in front of the television. Americans, in particular, watch TV for an average of five hours each day.
In order to determine the extent of the negative effects of television viewing on individuals' health, the investigators conducted a systematic assessment of all studies on the subject that were published between 1970 and 2011.
The study's results showed that two hours of TV viewing per day was associated with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Upwards of three hours was shown to elevate a person's chances of dying prematurely.
Furthermore, each additional two hours of television time increased individuals' risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and premature death by 20, 15, and 13 percent, respectively.
"The message is simple. Cutting back on TV watching can significantly reduce risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and premature mortality. We should not only promote increasing physical activity levels but also reduce sedentary behaviors, especially prolonged TV watching," said lead researcher Frank Hu.
These findings may be of special interest to people who have type 2 diabetes and want to limit the adverse health effects that are associated with the chronic condition. While a healthy diet and diabetes medications can help control blood sugar levels, exercise is also a key component in diabetes management.
According to the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse, engaging in regular physical activity may help lower blood sugar levels and blood pressure, balance good and bad cholesterol, improve insulin sensitivity, promote good bone and joint health, aid in weight loss, and increase energy levels.
In addition, individuals who have been diagnosed with prediabetes may be interested to know that moderate weight loss between 5 and 7 percent of one's body weight has been shown to delay - or in some cases help prevent - the onset of type 2 diabetes.
For example, a 200 pound person could achieve these benefits by dropping as little as 10 pounds, the organization explains.
Patients with type 2 diabetes should consult their physician on a new exercise regimen, since increasing physical activity may alter blood glucose levels to a point at which diabetes medication will need to be adjusted.