Child Obesity Higher For Kids With TV In Their Room
December 12, 2012

Child Obesity Risk Higher For Kids Who Have A TV In Their Room

Connie K. Ho for — Your Universe Online

With such a wide variety of enthralling programming on television these days, it´s becoming increasingly difficult to get kids interested in anything other than the TV. However, a new study recently revealed that watching television for more than two hours a day in the bedroom may increase the risk of obesity in young children.

The researchers discovered that on average, children between the ages of eight and 18 watch approximately 4.5 hours of television each day. The Pennington Biomedical Research Center (PBRC)is one of the groups exploring the connections between watching TV in the bedroom and a large waistline in children and adolescents.

"The established association between TV and obesity is predominantly based on BMI [Body Mass Index],” explained the study´s lead investigator Peter T. Katzmarzyk in a prepared statement.

“The association between TV and fat mass, adiposity stored in specific depots (including abdominal subcutaneous and visceral adipose tissue), and cardiometabolic risk, is less well understood “¦ It is hypothesized that higher levels of TV viewing and the presence of a TV in the bedroom are associated with depot-specific adiposity and cardiometabolic risk."

The study comes at a particularly important time, as childhood obesity has been skyrocketing in recent years. According to statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the percentage of obese children aged 6 to 11 increased from 7% to 20% between 1980 and 2008 alone, numbers that were also mirrored in adolescents aged 12 to 19. In all, says the CDC,  over one-third of all American children can be classified as ℠overweight´.

Past studies have shown that excessive TV watching during childhood often continues into adulthood, leading to problems like obesity and high cholesterol.

The current research project was conducted between 2010 and 2011 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. A total of 369 children and adolescents between the ages of five and 18 represented a variety of medical and demographic factors in terms of age, BMI status, ethnicity, and gender.

The researchers attempted to measure the impact of television on fat mass, stomach fat, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, resting blood pressure, fasting triglycerides, and waist circumference.

They then analyzed the data and noticed a number of trends. The data showed that, children who had a television in their room tended to watch more TV than those who did not. Additionally, these children had a greater chance of having more fat and subcutaneous adipose tissue mass along with a higher waist circumference compared to other children who did not have a TV in their bedroom.

They also found that children who watched five hours of TV or more a day were twice as likely to be in the top quarter for visceral adipose tissue mass. Likewise, having a TV in the bedroom tripled the chances of having boosted cardiometabolic risk, increased waist circumference and elevated triglycerides.

"There was a stronger association between having a TV in the bedroom versus TV viewing time, with the adiposity and health outcomes," noted the study´s co-author Amanda Staiano in a statement.

"A bedroom TV may create additional disruptions to healthy habits, above and beyond regular TV viewing. For instance, having a bedroom TV is related to lower amounts of sleep and lower prevalence of regular family meals, independent of total TV viewing time. Both short sleep duration and lack of regular family meals have been related to weight gain and obesity."

The findings of the study were recently featured in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.