Among elderly, addiction to television boosts the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, say researchers.
The study, led by Paul Gardiner from The University of Queensland School of Population Health, was one of the first to examine the effects of sedentary behaviour and TV watching on older men and women.
"Up until now, most research about sitting and watching TV has been focused on children, while older adults have potentially the most to gain from changing their behaviour," Gardiner said.
Researchers found that for each hour a person spends watching TV, his or her risk of developing metabolic syndrome increases. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of cardiovascular disease predictors linked to the onset of type 2 diabetes, according to a Queensland statement.
Other lifestyle factors linked to metabolic syndrome include a lack of regular exercise, poor nutrition, high alcohol consumption and smoking.
Gardiner said even light activity such while watching TV can reduce the risk of developing metabolic syndrome.
"Reducing sedentary behaviour may be a feasible and practical way for older adults to improve their health and may be particularly important for those whose health or physical functioning limits their participation in moderate-intensity physical activity," he said.
Previous studies had shown that sedentary behaviour has a unique physiological effect on the body and that this was different from the effect of lack of exercise.