There has been a growing interest in environmental initiatives to reduce sedentary behaviour. A few existing studies on this topic are mostly cross-sectional, focused on the general adult population, and examining neighbourhood walkability. This study examined associations of perceived environmental attributes with change in TV viewing time over seven years among older Australian adults in the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle (AusDiab) study.
The AusDiab study is a population-based study on diabetes and its risk factors in adults. We used the data on 1072 older adults (60+ years at baseline) collected in 2004–05 (baseline) and in 2011–12 (follow-up; 45. 4% men, mean age 67.5 years). Generalized linear modelling examined associations with 7 years change in TV viewing time of nine perceived neighbourhood-environment attributes relating to local shops, alternative routes, footpaths, parks, attractiveness, natural features, bicycle/walkway tracks, local traffic, and safety.
On average, participants increased their TV viewing time from 127 min/day to 137 min/day over the 7 years period. Adjusted for baseline TV viewing levels, TV viewing time at follow-up was 8% lower (95%CI: 0.85, 0.99) among those who did not perceive local traffic as a deterrent compared to those who perceived traffic as a deterrent. A trend for significant interaction between working status and the presence of a parks nearby indicated that, for those who were not working, those who reported having parks nearby had a marginal association with lower TV viewing time at follow-up than those who did not (p = 0.048).
Overall TV viewing time increased on average by 10 minutes/day over 7 years among older Australian adults. Local traffic that makes walking difficult or unpleasant may increase older adults’ leisure-time sedentary behaviours such as TV viewing, possibly by deterring outdoor activities.