A new study shows that it doesn’t take much time in front of the boob tube for kids to increase their chances of being overweight or obese. In fact, young children who spend just one hour in front of the television each day are far more likely to have weight problems than kids with less exposure to TV.
The study, which was led by University of Virginia researcher Dr. Mark DeBoer, involved an examination of data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey, which included more than 11,000 kids. The survey focused on childhood lifestyle factors, including television and computer usage.
The results were stunning. DeBoer’s research shows that kids who spent 1-2 hours in front of the TV each day were far more likely to have higher body mass indexes than children who watched television for 60 minutes or less on a daily basis. Specifically, kids watching an hour or more of TV each day were 39-percent more likely to become overweight and 86-percent more likely to become obese.
“Children watching one to two hours were heavier than those watching less than one hour, and were almost as heavy as those watching greater than two hours daily,” DeBoer said.
DeBoer’s study did not attempt to show how watching television encourages weight gain. Previous studies have suggested that watching commercials–which often feature high-fat, high-sugar, high-calorie food products–could be a factor.
Interestingly, the study–which was recently presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies’ annual meeting–did not show a link between computer usage and weight gain.