Study of the Day: News Junkies Are Well-Informed and Much Healthier

Watching television isn't all bad. New research shows that, when used to gain information, it can lead to more healthful eating choices.

main scyther5 shutterstock_68198938.jpg

PROBLEM: Scientists who analyze the relationship of television viewing and health usually come to negative conclusions. Their studies, which often equate watching TV with physical inactivity and snacking, point to its deleterious effects on obesity, a major cardiovascular risk factor. But can people who indulge in mass media also be making more healthful decisions based on the information they consume?

METHODOLOGY: Scientists from the Research Laboratories at the Fondazione di Ricerca e Cura "Giovanni Paolo II" in Campobasso analyzed data from a sample of more than 1,000 people from a large epidemiological study that recruited 25,000 subjects in Molise, a southern region of Italy. They collected information about their medical condition, lifestyle, and dietary habits, and asked the respondents to complete a specific questionnaire on mass media usage, from TV viewing to newspaper and magazine reading and surfing the Internet.

RESULTS: The people who were most exposed to information delivered by any mass media source reported higher adherence to a Mediterranean diet, which is considered the healthiest eating model in the world and the most effective for reducing the risk of chronic and neurodegenerative diseases. More precisely, they reportedly ate less animal fats and more fruits and fresh fish.

CONCLUSION: When used for information, TV, newspapers, and the Internet may have a positive impact on one's health.

SOURCE: The full study, "Mass Media Information and Adherence to Mediterranean Diet: Results From the Moli-sani Study," is published in the International Journal of Public Health.

Image: scyther5/Shutterstock.

Presented by

Hans Villarica writes for and produces The Atlantic's Health channel. His work has appeared in TIME, People Asia, and Fast Company.

Saving the Bees

Honeybees contribute more than $15 billion to the U.S. economy. A short documentary considers how desperate beekeepers are trying to keep their hives alive.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Health

Just In