Is screen time and life style connected?
A recent US study suggests that the more time children spend in front of the television, the more unhealthy food they eat.
by Rune H. Rasmussen
and Sigrun Landro Thomassen
A recent report from the Eunice Kennedy Shrive National Institute of Child Health and Human Development concludes that for every hour of television children watch, they are 8 per cent less likely to eat fruit every day, 18 per cent more likely to eat candy, and 16 per cent more likely to eat fast food.
The researchers examined data from a 2009-2010 survey of more than 12.000 children in grades 5 to 10, average age 13.
Exposed to advertising for unhealthy food
The results of the study, the researchers claim, can be explained by the fact that children are exposed to more advertisements for junk food and soda than for fruit and vegetables. As well as this, sitting in front of the television for prolonged periods of time is linked to children establishing a pattern of unhealthy eating habits that may cause future obesity and chronic diseases associated with overweight, such as diabetes, sleep apnea and heart problems.
However, the researchers also found that some children increased the amount of fruit they ate while watching television. It all depended on what was available and within reach.
Leah Lipsky, staff scientist at Eunice Kennedy Shrive National Institute, says:
“Of course, the link was nowhere near as strong as that between TV watching and the increased consumption of candy, soda and fast food in general. But it kind of suggests that if you have other options available, and don’t have the unhealthy options available, then children might be encouraged to possibly eat more fruit.”
A large Australian study, published last year, found that six-year-olds, who spent a lot of time sitting in front of screens, were at greater risk of developing heart problems, high blood pressure and diabetes later in life, compared to those who spent less time in front of screens.
Read more: Screen time warning
“Take the middle path”
Kids and Media’s advisor, Kjellaug T. Tonnesen, believes that taking the middle path is a good idea; an everyday life where a suitable amount of appropriate screen time is balanced with a healthy diet and physical activity.
Last year, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a recommendation, stating that parents should not allow very young children to spend much time in front of televisions, computer screens or playing video games.
Read more: Limit screen time for the youngest children
Lots of TV bad for kids diets
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