TOO much television watching for those aged over 50 can lead to memory loss, research suggests.
Now scientists wonder if staring too long at the box could play a part in the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s. The findings come after experts in Britain analysed data from 3,662 adults aged 50 and over. They found staring at a screen for long periods was associated with a decline in memory of words and language over the following six years.
The association was independent of other factors, including time spent sitting down.
Dr Daisy Fancourt, of the Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care at University College London, said there had been a lot of interest in the effects on children, but less so in adults.
This, she added, was “despite it being hypothesised for over 25 years that watching excessive television could contribute to the development of dementia.
“While watching TV may also have benefits overall this suggests adults over the age of 50 should try and ensure television viewing is balanced with other contrasting activities.”
Participants were quizzed on their watching habits and underwent verbal memory and fluency tests in 2008 and then 2014.
Scientists found those who watched television for more than three-and-a-half hours experienced on average 8-10 per cent decrease in verbal memory, while those who watched less experienced on average a decrease of 4-5 per cent.
The study suggests watching TV could reduce the amount of time people spend on activities that could help preserve mental function, like reading.
Interactive screen-based activities, like video gaming and surfing the internet, could provide cognitive benefits, it added.