London: A recent study says, that people who stay up-to-date with news and current affairs are more health-conscious and will live longer.

The study found that people who were most exposed to newspaper, television and the internet had healthier diets than those who were less well informed, as reported.

More than 1,000 adults were interviewed in the study. The researchers found that people most exposed to news and mass media consumed a healthier diet, with greater quantities of fruit and fish that reduced the risk of obesity, heart disease and cancer.

Past research has often suggested that mass media can have a negative impact on health. For instance, TV viewing has been linked to physical inactivity and snacking, the major risk factors for obesity and heart disease.

But the latest findings suggest that TV programmes, addressing health issues, can also make people more health conscious. The participants completed a questionnaire on mass media usage, from TV viewing to newspaper and magazine reading and surfing the internet, which was then analysed alongside medical, lifestyle and dietary data.

Findings showed people more inquisitive about current affairs had better diets. Scientist Giovanni de Gaetano supported the contribution of mass media in increasing awareness about health.

"Information delivered by mass media may appear fragmented or imprecise, especially when we talk about health and prevention. Our study has however provided data which may turn out to be very useful in a period in which to combat obesity increase, unhealthy dietary habits and diffused laziness we are urged to find new ways to communicate health.”

"We should stop being suspicious of mass media. The next step will be to evaluate the single sources of information and to study the changes that the internet is introducing in the way people, mainly the youngest, get informed on health topics."

The study has been published in the International Journal of Public Health.

(Agencies)