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Background: Overweight and obesity are well-established risk factors for COVID-19 severity; however, less is known about the role of sedentary behaviors such as television (TV) viewing. The purpose of this brief report was to determine whether lower TV viewing time may mitigate the risk of severe COVID-19 in individuals with excess weight. Methods: We analyzed 329,751 UK Biobank participants to investigate the independent and combined associations of BMI and self-reported TV viewing time with odds of severe COVID-19 (inpatient COVID-19 or COVID-19 death). Results: Between March 16 and December 8, 2020, there were 1648 instances of severe COVID-19. Per 1-unit (hours per day) increase in TV viewing time, the odds of severe COVID-19 increased by 5% (adjusted odds ratio = 1.05, 95% confidence interval = 1.02–1.08). Compared with normal-weight individuals with low (≤1 h/d) TV viewing time, the odds ratios for overweight individuals with low and high (≥4 h/d) TV viewing time were 1.17 (0.89–1.55) and 1.66 (1.31–2.11), respectively. For individuals with obesity, the respective ORs for low and high TV viewing time were 2.18 (1.61–2.95) and 2.14 (1.69–2.73). Conclusion: Higher TV viewing time was associated with higher odds of severe COVID-19 independent of BMI and moderate to vigorous physical activity. Additionally, low TV viewing time may partly attenuate the elevated odds associated with overweight, but not obesity.
Bishop (firstname.lastname@example.org) is corresponding author, https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6221-3907