Last weekend, the New York Times published a 4,000-plus-word report taking stock of President Donald Trump's first 11 months in office. For many readers, one detail seems to have stuck out: his fondness for television. "People close to him estimate that Mr. Trump spends at least four hours a day, and sometimes as much as twice that, in front of a television," the Times reports. Cue the headlines.
Trump has taken to Twitter to deny he watches four to eight hours of TV daily. Either way, it's clear, from frequent reactions to cable news segments, that he watches a lot. TV viewing also happens to be a highly studied habit among public-health and social scientists, so here at Pacific Standard, we thought we would take a quick look at some the most-cited studies.
Research shows heavy TV watching is associated with:
- Obesity and Type 2 diabetes among women.
- Teens believing in traditional gender roles.
- Being unhappy, materialistic, and anxious.
- Obesity among adults in general.
- Type 2 diabetes among men.
- Poorer reading skills among children.
- Being overweight, among children.
- High triglycerides in men.
- More daydreaming, but less creative imaginations.
- Depression in adults.
- Lower test scores among young adults.
- Spending more time with family, but being more passive than during other kinds of family activities.
- Death from all causes.
Seems rough! Yet Trump's habits are not so unusual: On average, American adults watch a little over five hours of TV a day, according to a Nielsen report from early 2016. A doctor might suggest cutting back on the screen time, for the sake of our physical and mental health.