TV-aficionado and kindergartener should never be mentioned in the same sentence according to new research.

Television viewing habits and obesity rates were studied by the U.S. Department of Education. It found that a shockingly low amount of TV per day increased the risk of obesity by 72 percent.

How much time in front of the TV? Anything more than an hour per day. What was the average of the group in the study? 3.3 hours. Yeah, that’s a problem.

Study Details

The study followed 12,650 kids enrolled in kindergarten in 2011. Researchers measured the height and weight to get the child’s BMI, and the parents were questioned on the amount of time their kid spent in front of the TV each day.

Researchers then controlled for factors like socioeconomic status, gender, race and ethnicity. Each could have skewed the results away from the analysis of TV-viewing habits and any links to obesity.

A year into the study, the measurements were performed again on 10,853 of the study participants. Height and weight were measured, along with a questionnaire for parents on TV-viewing habits.

With new data, the results were just as troubling. Compared to kids who watched under an hour of television per day, those who watched more were 39 percent more likely to become overweight. Just in the time between kindergarten and the first grade.

Scary news for both parents and health officials.

childhood obesity and tv viewing habits

TV-viewing Recommendations

The new study is calling into question the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) guidelines for children and screen time – this factors in TV-viewing. Two hours or less per day is the recommendation.

This study gives you the feeling it is overly generous in the amount of time it recommends.

Presenting the study this Sunday at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting in San Diego is Dr. Mark Deboer. His statement on the findings pointed out the disconnect between the findings and the AAP recommendations.

“Given the data presented in this study, the AAP may wish to lower its recommended TV viewing allowances.”

TV and Screen Alternatives

With technology everywhere, it is easy to forget a few simple ideas to get your kid away from the screen.

The AAP recommends you designate ‘screen-free’ zones and keep televisions and computers out of the rooms of children. Get them outdoors playing, reading a book and engaging in other hobbies.

We should take the research as another wake up call to fight the childhood obesity epidemic.


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