Health Effects of Binge Watching

Greta Morton, staff writer

Weekends are pretty great. After a stressful week in school, all you want to do is sit on the couch with a bag of chips, log into Netflix, and binge watch your favorite TV shows. It sounds a bit unhealthy, but hey, you can just work it off on the treadmill tomorrow, right? While that may be the case, unfortunately the junk food eaten is not the only health issue you should be concerned about during your weekly binge.

In a study conducted by Netflix, results showed that adults who watched more than three hours of TV a day increased their risk of diabetes, cancer, and heart disease by 15% as well as doubled their risk for premature death. There is also a higher risk of obesity, and lounging about for long periods of time can slow circulation and metabolism, making you feel even more tired and sluggish.

Binge watching can also lead to higher levels of depression, loneliness, and addictive behavior. A study by the University of Texas tested 316 subjects between the ages of 18 and 29 that were asked a series of questions, including how often they felt lonely or depressed. Participants who revealed they often felt depressed were also the ones who regularly binge watched TV shows. Subjects also displayed more addictive qualities, which led some researchers to believe the television habits may have become an addiction.

Unfortunately, depression is not the only mental health issue found to be linked with increased TV watching. Researchers from the University of Toledo also discovered a connection between binge watching and growth in anxiety or stress. Out of 406 participants, 77% claimed to watch at least two hours a night, while 33% confessed to watching even more than that. Though, after watching only two hours of television, all participants claimed to feel more anxious. But a new theory suggests that perhaps people who binge watch are already experiencing depression and anxiety, and those are the reasons for the low self-control when it comes to heavy TV watching.

“I know people that when they binge watch they’ll watch all of the episodes and then they won’t watch the last one because they’ll [feel] depressed when they finish it,” said sophomore Olivia Magnuson. “I don’t really do it because it kind of makes me sad to just sit in bed and not be social for a long time.”

“[Binge watching] is a good way to distract yourself and pass the time, but I can see how it would not benefit your health because you’re just sitting there and lots of TV shows are kind of depressing. I feel like there’s better things that people could be doing with their lives instead of sitting there for eight hours just watching somebody else’s life play out,” said sophomore Hallie Robinson.

But, it all comes down to moderation. Binge watching once in a while won’t kill you, but the less TV you watch, the more time you’ll have to hang out with friends and stop isolating yourself. Overall, you’ll be in a healthier state of mind.