In this photo, a Eurostar passenger sleeps after leaving Waterloo Station in London, England, July 30, 2003. Getty Images/ Scott Barbour

Poor diet and unhealthy lifestyle choices can be linked to spending extensive time in front of the television and not receiving enough sleep, two recent studies found.

A study, published in Journal of Obesity and Weight Management, found that millennials who binge-watched television for more than six hours on a daily basis were more likely to develop obesity and weight issues, due to their poor choice of diet and lack of physical activity.

“Individuals who watch more TV generally have less healthful diets,” Brigham Young University professor Lori Spruance, the lead researcher, said, BYU News reported. “For these people, time that could be spent preparing meals or grocery shopping appears to be substituted for binge-watching TV.”

For the study, 1,995 students from a public university in Utah were invited to participate. The participants were asked to respond to questions pertaining to their habit of binge-watching, their BMI, fruit and vegetable consumption, eating out and exercise habits.

Binge-Watching TV
Habit of binge watching TV late into the night can also lead to sleep deprivation, which is another reason behind people turning to sugary intake and a junk food diet. In this photo, people watch as Pope Francis is shown on television as he arrives in Havana, Cuba, Sept. 19, 2015. Getty Images/Joe Raedle

From their answers, it was observed that 85 percent of the participants consumed fruit and vegetables less than once per day, 88 percent ate out once a week or more and less than 50 percent met the exercising recommendations. Lastly, it was seen that more than 20 percent were either overweight or obese.

Spruance added that spending increasing number of hours in front of the stupid box led to weight gain, cardiovascular disease, cancer and type-2 diabetes, which are among the leading chronic diseases plaguing the United States in the present times.

So how does Netflix-lovers maintain a healthy lifestyle as well as carry on their habit of binge watching their favorite TV series? “The main message is moderation,” Spruance said. “Take breaks from binge-watching; set a limit on the number of episodes you’ll watch at once so you can incorporate healthy activities in your life too.”

Habit of binge watching TV late into the night might also lead to sleep deprivation, which is another reason behind people turning to sugary intake and a junk food diet.

According to a study, conducted by King’s College London, individuals who do not get the recommended amount of sleep every day, or people essentially functioning on less than seven hours of sleep, tend to lead an unhealthy lifestyle.

The study, which is yet to be published on the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that compared to baseline levels, extending sleep patterns resulted in a 10-gram reduction in reported intake of free sugars. The team also noticed a decrease in the amount of carbohydrate intake in the daily diet.

In an official press release, Doctor Wendy Hall from the Department of Nutritional Sciences, who is one of the principal investigators in the study, said: “The fact that extending sleep led to a reduction in intake of free sugars, by which we mean the sugars that are added to foods by manufacturers or in cooking at home as well as sugars in honey, syrups and fruit juice, suggests that a simple change in lifestyle may really help people to consume healthier diets.”

There were 42 participants in the study, who were divided into two groups. While one group received advice on improving their sleeping habits, another group was left without any expert intervention.

The group that received sleep advice were required to wear motion sensors and kept sleep and food journals that recorded their time spent in bed. Fifty percent of the group increased their sleep duration by 52 minutes to nearly 90 minutes. Three of those participants were able to reach recommended seven to nine hours of sleep on daily average.

This also led to a better diet, despite the fact that the quality of sleep for the first group was not up to par. “Sleep duration and quality is an area of increasing public health concern and has been linked as a risk factor for various conditions,” lead researcher, Haya Al Khatib, from the Department of Nutritional Sciences said. “We have shown that sleep habits can be changed with relative ease in healthy adults using a personalized approach.”

“Our results also suggest that increasing time in bed for an hour or so longer may lead to healthier food choices,” Khatib added. “This further strengthens the link between short sleep and poorer quality diets that has already been observed by previous studies.”

The second group, which did not receive an intervention, showed no changes in their sleeping patterns. However, the researchers admitted that further long term studies needed to be conducted to assess the link between sleep and the “risk of obesity or cardio-vascular disease.”