Like all the things we love, our Netflix and chill habit isn’t doing anything for our waistlines. And just in case you thought it was a farce, a recent study confirms it: All those nights spent on the couch with the Mother of Dragons and the gang from Stranger Things is starting to do a number on our bodies.
The recent Zaluvida weight loss study found that 88% percent of Americans moved less over the past few years due to an increase in time spent watching TV or otherwise consuming media. What’s more is that the study says our favorite apps—Uber, Lyft, Netflix and Seamless—may be to blame.
According to recent data, adult obesity is still a nationwide epidemic. Five states report obesity rates in 35% or more of the population. Another 25 states report rates of 30%, while 46 states reported a 25% obesity rate. Since 1990, nearly all states have seen these rates climb each year.
Are screen time and sitting to blame?
According to an article published by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, children spend nearly 50 hours a week, on average, consuming screen-based media. The Journal of Pediatrics reported that a five-hour a day TV habit increased the risk of obesity in teens by 78%, compared to their peers with more modest viewing patterns.
While television itself can’t cause anyone to consume more calories, excessive viewing patterns may be linked to poor nutritional choices or mindless snacking. And these, of course, can quickly lead to weight gain.
We all know that sitting all day isn’t doing us any favors. Research has shown that sitting for long stretches of time can lead to poor health outcomes like obesity, blood clots and metabolic syndrome—a deadly condition that includes high blood pressure, increased blood sugar and high cholesterol. Sitting could also lead to a heightened risk of cancer or heart disease.
Too much sitting also seems to increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer. That said, Netflix isn’t the only culprit; it’s also sitting in general, whether in front of the TV or at your work desk. So, if you’re the type of worker who doesn’t get up and move every now and again, or if you spend a lot of time in the car, you’re still facing down the same grim set of symptoms as the Netflix bingers—only minus the entertainment factor.
On top of the risk of developing a serious chronic illness, sitting for more than six hours per day can lead to tight hips, a sore back and weak legs and glutes. Your muscles could eventually experience atrophy, and you could end up feeling stiff, tired and depressed.
According to a 2015 study from the Annals of Internal Medicine, more than half of all adults spend the bulk of the day seated. During the work day, you might have less flexibility to move as you please, but try walking around the block a few times a day, or answer your emails while standing. If you need motivation, know that you’ll burn roughly 30% more calories by standing up than doing the same act while sitting down.
The moral of the story? Get up and move, move, move. There are all kinds of apps out there that will let you know when it’s time to move. And, if you must watch TV, get up and do a few exercises during the commercial break, or during slow plot points in your favorite Netflix binge.
The last nail in the coffin could be delivery food
As you’re mentally working out how much time you spend watching TV, we have more bad news. Eating in front of the TV means you’re likely consuming more calories per sitting than you would be eating at the dining room table.
Add convenient delivery services like Seamless and UberEats to the mix, and you’re getting larger portions, hidden salt and sugar, plus fatty cuts of meat. That’s all the nutritional problems you’ll get from dining out, minus the actual act of going out. But with the rise of Netflix binges and Uber delivery are tons of other apps that get us moving and make healthy food accessible. Only time will tell if healthy subscription meals, standing desks and fitness will move the needle in the obesity epidemic. But based on a slew of recent studies, one thing is for sure: Netflix and delivery dining are moving the needle in the wrong direction.