SAN DIEGO — Children who watched at least one hour of television per day were significantly more likely to be overweight vs. children who watched 30 minutes or less, according to data presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies Annual Meeting.
Mark D. DeBoer, MD, MSc, MCR, of the University of Virginia, and colleagues assessed data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey for 11,113 children in kindergarten during the 2011 to 2012 school year. Parents reported lifestyle factors that may affect children’s educational performance, including number of hours of television watched per weekday and weekend day and how often children used computers. Children’s height and weight were also measured. Researchers conducted follow-up one year later for 10,853 of initial study participants.
Mark D. DeBoer
Overall, children watched an average of 3.3 hours of television per day.
Children in kindergarten and first grade who watched one to two hours of television per day had significantly higher BMIs compared with children who watched less than 30 minutes or 30 to 60 minutes per day. This relationship remained the same when adjusting for socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity and computer use.
Children who watched at least one hour of television per day were 50% to 60% more likely to be overweight and 58% to 73% more likely to be obese vs. children who watched less television.
Watching at least one hour of television per day increased children’s risk for becoming overweight between kindergarten and first grade by 39%. Further, children who watched television for at least one hour per day were 86% more likely to become obese by first grade.
Computer use was not associated with higher weight, according to researchers.
“Given overwhelming evidence connecting the amount of TV viewing and unhealthy weight, pediatricians and parents should attempt to restrict childhood TV viewing,” DeBoer said in a press release.
The AAP currently recommends limiting children and adolescents to less than 2 hours of screen time per day.
“Given the data presented in this study, the AAP may wish to lower its recommended TV viewing allowances,” DeBoer said. – by Amanda Oldt
Peck T. Abstract #2500.2. Presented at: Pediatric Academic Societies 2015; April 25-28, 2015; San Diego.
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