April 7, 2008

Study Blames TV for Unhealthy Habits in Teens

U.S. researchers have found teens that have a television in their bedroom tend to have poorer diet and exercise habits and lower grades in school compared to those who don't.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health were interested in examining the consequences in particular for older adolescents of having a bedroom TV.

The team questioned 781 adolescents between the ages of 15 and 18 in the Minneapolis area in 2003 and 2004"”62 percent reported having a television in their bedroom.

Those with a bedroom TV spent four to five more hours watching per week. Twice as many of the teens with a bedroom TV were classified as heavy TV watchers (at least five hours a day) compared to those without one.

Researchers said girls with a bedroom television reported getting less vigorous exercise 1.8 hours per week compared to 2.5 hours for girls without a TV. They also ate fewer vegetables, drank more sweetened beverages and ate meals with their family less often.

Boys with a bedroom TV reported having a lower grade point average than boys without one, as well as eating less fruit and having fewer family meals.

"It really clearly points out that there's some merit to not allowing your child to have a TV in the bedroom," said Daheia Barr-Anderson, one of the researchers.

Barr-Anderson said when you upgrade your TV in the living room and you have this smaller TV that's out of date but still usable, parents should really resist putting it in one of their children's bedrooms and resist the pressure from the child to have a TV in their bedroom.

The American Academy of Pediatrics urges parents to remove TV sets from children's bedrooms.

Boys (68%) are more likely to have a television in their room than girls (58%).

The survey also noted that teens from the highest income families were far less likely than those from all other income levels to have a bedroom TV.

Around 82 percent of black teens reported having a bedroom TV, compared to 66 percent of Hispanics, 60 percent of whites and 39 percent of Asian Americans.

The researchers also tracked body mass index"”a measure based on height and weight"”and found that having a bedroom TV had no influence on whether teens were obese.

Barr-Anderson was surprised, considering that previous studies looking at younger children"”one on elementary school kids and one on low-income preschoolers"”found that having a bedroom TV was an even stronger predictor of obesity than the time spent watching TV.

Although the differences were not statistically different, boys and girls with a bedroom TV reported spending less time reading and doing homework.

The findings were published in the academy's journal Pediatrics.


On the Net:

University of Minnesota School of Public Health

American Academy of Pediatrics