Obesity is one of the
major health concerns among both children and adults in the United States
today. The American Academy of
Pediatrics (AAP) suggests that children should not watch more than two hours of
television a day
. However, it is commonly seen that on an average American
children watch television for 2 to 3
hours in a day. Having a television set in kid's bedroom is not unusual for an
average American household and this makes it easy for them to have ready access
Not only are children inactive while they are watching
television, they often snack on unhealthy foods. Establishing unhealthy habits as a child can continue
into adulthood and be highly detrimental for the child's health. The
fact that children spend a substantial portion of their lives watching
television needs special attention in every possible way.
Investigators have hypothesized that television
viewing causes obesity by one or more of the following mechanisms:
(1) Decrease in physical activity
(2) Increased calorie consumption while watching
(3) Increased dependence on fast food as a result
of processed food product advertisements on TV.
(4) Reduced resting metabolism.
The relationship between television viewing and
obesity has been examined in a relatively large number of studies.
The studies suggest that reducing television
viewing may help to reduce the risk for obesity or help promote weight loss in
school-based, experimental study was designed specifically to test directly the
causal relationship between television viewing behaviors and body fat. The
results of this randomized, controlled trial provide evidence that television
viewing is a cause of increased body fatness and that reducing television
viewing is a promising strategy for preventing childhood obesity.
Another study examined the relationship between
television watching, energy intake, physical activity, and obesity
status in US boys and girls, aged 8 to 16 years. It concluded that the prevalence of obesity is
lowest among children watching one or fewer hours of television a
day, and highest among those watching four or more hours of
television a day.
watching was positively associated with obesity among girls, even
after controlling for age, race or ethnicity, family income, weekly
physical activity, and energy intake.
As the prevalence of overweight increases, the
need to reduce sedentary behaviors and
promotion of a more active lifestyle becomes essential.
Clinicians, public health interventionists, parents, teachers should
all encourage active lifestyles to balance the energy intake of
Television Watching, Energy
Intake, and Obesity in US Children
From the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1988-1994
J. Crespo, DrPH, MS; Ellen Smit, PhD, RD; Richard P. Troiano, PhD, RD; Susan J. Bartlett, PhD; Caroline
A. Macera, PhD; Ross E. Andersen, PhD
Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2001;155:360-365.
How Does Increased Television
Watching 'Weigh Into' Childhood Obesity?
of Pediatrics, Volume 147, Number 4 (October 2005), published by Elsevier.
Television viewing and childhood obesity. Robinson TN. Division of General
Pediatrics and Stanford Center for Research in Disease Prevention, Stanford
University, Stanford, California, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
Pediatr Clin North Am. 2001 Aug;48(4):1017-25.