TV in bedrooms another risk factor for child obesity

December 18, 2012

Children who watch TV in their bedrooms are at double the risk for being obese and almost 3 times as likely to develop heart disease and diabetes than children who watch the family set,researchers found when they examined how viewing time affects health in children and adolescents.

 

Children who watch TV in their bedrooms are at double the risk for being obese and almost 3 times as likely to develop heart disease and diabetes than children who watch the family set,researchers found when they examined how viewing time affects health in children and adolescents.

Investigators looked at height, weight, and waist circumference; whole body fat mass; subcutaneous and visceral adipose tissue; glucose, triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and insulin; and blood pressure for 369 children and adolescents aged 5 to 18 years. Participants also completed lifestyle, dietary, and activities questionnaires and reported whether they had a TV in their rooms and how many hours they watched programs or videos each day.

Two-thirds of participants had TVs in their rooms and were more likely to watch more hours each day than children without personal TVs. Boys were more likely to have a bedroom TV than girls (72% vs 60%, respectively).

Children with TVs in their rooms had higher fat mass, adipose tissue mass, and systolic blood pressure compared with children who did not, and values increased with longer viewing times. Those having a bedroom TV and watching more than 2 hours a day were 2 to 2.5 times more likely to be in the top quartile for fat mass and almost 3 times more likely to be in the top quartile of subcutaneous adipose tissue mass.

Similarly, having a bedroom TV put children at 3 times the risk for overall cardiometabolic problems and elevated triglycerides.

The researchers caution that a TV in the bedroom is not the only contributor to childhood obesity, but that using computers, laptops, cell phones, or iPads also enables children to accumulate hours of screen time in the privacy of their rooms.

The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages television viewing for children aged younger than 2 years and advises parents to limit older children’s screen time to less than 2 hours a day, preferably with their parents present.