HealthDay News — The risk of becoming overweight or obese increases with even just an hour of television per day in kids, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies, held from April 25 to 28 in San Diego, California.
“There is a need for updated information on the TV viewing habits of young children currently growing up in the United States,” noted Travis Peck, of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, and colleagues.
“Although the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children watch <2 hours of TV daily, the appropriate guidelines most conducive to a healthy weight status remain unknown.”
To examine the relationship between TV viewing and weight status, the researchers culled data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey of 11,113 children attending kindergarten in 2011 to 2012. The database included the number of hours children watched television, how often they used computers, and records of their height and weight. A year later, most of the children were evaluated again for these same factors.
On average, kindergartners watched about three hours of television daily. Those who watched one to two hours of television a day, or more than two, were more likely to be at unhealthy weights compared with those who watched less.
Referring to those in kindergarten, Mark DeBoer, MD, associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, told HealthDay that “children who watched one to two hours of television a day were 43% more likely to be overweight and 47% more likely to be obese compared to children who watched less than an hour.”
The more they watched, the higher the likelihood, he found. This was only television screen time; no other screen activities were evaluated. No link was found between computer use and unhealthy weights.
“Given overwhelming evidence connecting the amount of time TV viewing and unhealthy weight, pediatricians and parents should attempt to restrict childhood TV viewing,” said DeBoer in an association press release.