has been dubbed the Word of The Year, with a 200 per cent increase in use, thanks to the onslaught of streaming services enticing viewers to settle in for several episodes in one sitting.

With its rise in popularity, a team of researchers set out to review binge-watching's effects.

In a study of 406 people, researchers from the University of Toledo's Department of Health and Recreation recorded how much TV the participants watched each night, and how they felt as they viewed.

The study found 77 per cent watched at least two hours of programmes a night, classing them as 'bingers'.

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While 35 per cent watched far more, the two hour mark saw participants reporting feeling more depressed and anxious than those who spent less time.

"We do not know which came first," said the study's co-author Dr. Monika Karmarkar, a doctoral candidate at the University of Toledo, according to New York Daily News, "Depression, anxiety, and stress led them to binge watch or if binge-watching led to depression, anxiety, and stress."

Karmarkar acknowledges the study's limitations: "We did not look at eating habits or exercising habits... But TV watching is a sedentary behaviour and sedentary behaviours lead to mental health problems and medical symptoms shown to increase cardiovascular disease and risk of diabetes."

The present study isn't the first to link watching habits with poorer mental health.

In January, research presented at the International Communication Association's 65th annual conference found binge-watching TV series was linked to increased feelings of loneliness and lower levels of self-control.

- nzherald.co.nz

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