Another reason for kids to turn off the TV

Another reason for kids to turn off the TV

New research suggests that too much television isn’t good for a child’s waistline.

Kindergartners and first-graders who watched at least an hour of TV each day were 50 to 60 percent more likely to be overweight, according to findings presented at the annual Pediatric Academic Societies meetings. Children were also 58 to 73 percent more likely to be obese compared to those who watched less than an hour.

“This study again points to the problem of too much television watching by our children, but goes further to point out the link that even as little as an hour a day puts children at risk for obesity,” says Dr. Brian Chudik, an Advocate Medical Group family medicine physician at Elgin, Ill.-based Advocate Sherman Hospital. “This is even less time in front of the TV than most doctors have been recommending in the past, and the big point for us is to further emphasize to parents to restrict TV watching to less than an hour daily.”

Researchers evaluated data from the National Center for Education Statistics Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey of over 11,000 students who were in kindergarten in 2011-2012. Data included how much television they watched on weekdays and weekends, as well as how often they used computers. Study leaders also measured the students’ height and weight.

Similar data was again collected a year later and found that U.S. kindergartners watched an average of 3.3 hours of TV daily, and both kindergartners and first-graders who watched more than two hours a day had much higher body mass index than those who viewed less than an hour.

Kids who watched an hour or more were also 39 percent more likely to become overweight, and 86 percent more likely to become obese between those two grades.

“Given overwhelming evidence connecting the amount of time TV viewing and unhealthy weight, pediatricians and parents should attempt to restrict childhood TV viewing,” said Dr. Mark D. DeBoer, study author and associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Virginia Health System, in a news release. “Given the data presented in this study, the American Academy of Pediatrics may wish to lower its recommended TV viewing allowances.”

However, study results showed that computer use was not associated with being overweight.

“With changing times, computers and iPads are taking a larger chunk of this ‘entertaining time’ that used to be occupied by TV,” Dr. Chudik says. “We like to link being sedentary during TV watching with obesity, but what is it about computer use that is different and not related to a higher risk of obesity – content viewed, commercials for food, more mind-activity, or interactive versus passive TV watching?”

Related Posts


Subscribe to health enews newsletter

About the Author

health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.