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Will the Ultimate TV Dinner Be Found in Fish? : Viewers May Take Heart From Dutch Researchers' Report on Coronary Diseases

June 30, 1985|DICK WEST | United Press International

WASHINGTON — If watching television makes you fat, as one group of Harvard University researchers appears to believe, we can take heart from another study conducted at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands.

The Dutch researchers found that eating fish apparently protects against coronary diseases.

The next project, as I see it, should be a study of people who eat fish while watching TV. Perhaps Sen. William Proxmire could be persuaded to underwrite it.

The Wisconsin Democrat is fond of bestowing his "Golden Fleece" award on government-financed research that he considers pointless and wasteful. I have, however, never heard of Proxmire reversing the coin--that is, funding worthwhile projects. This may be the time.

Such a study might show that heart attacks supposedly promoted by obesity are prevented by the consumption of seafood.

Little Energy

The Harvard School of Public Health has concluded that "time spent viewing television is a powerful predictor of obesity in youth," possibly because that form of recreation requires little energy.

Maybe so. I myself have noted that watching television reduces the hours children might spend in more strenuous activity, such as washing the dishes.

It also might be pointed out that the food they are most likely to munch while absorbed with the flickering images on the tiny screen tend to be rich in calories.

Suppose they were to wolf down fish chips instead?

It long has been believed that eating fish is healthful. But until the Dutch study there was a paucity of scientific evidence as to the amount needed to stave off heart attacks.

Leiden researchers found that as little as an ounce of saltwater fish per day was helpful to those who had never eaten fish.

Putting it another way, they concluded that "one or two fish dishes per week may be of preventive value in relation to coronary heart disease."

Fish Snacks

What was not covered was the potential benefits of fish snacks.

I know youngsters who gobble much more than an ounce of nibbles each time they sit down at the television set. Perhaps they could be persuaded to open a box of fish snacks instead.

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