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TV Viewing Increases Intake of Junk Food

by Medindia Content Team on April 9, 2006 at 12:16 PM
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TV Viewing Increases Intake of Junk Food

It is said that the main culprit behind childhood obesity is that the amount of junk food youngsters eat is directly proportional to the number of hours they spend watching television. Researchers analyzed the dietary and viewing habits of more than 162,000 children in 35 countries.

It was found that consumption of sweets and fizzy drinks rises with each hour they spend in front of the idiot box. Researchers at the universities of Aberdeen and Ghent, in Belgium, have prompted renewed calls for curbs on TV viewing by children and junk food advertising. The replacement of fruit and vegetables by other foods advertised more frequently on the TV is another problem that the health officials have top tackle as children are more likely to ask for, buy and eat food they see advertised on television.

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According to the study conducted by WHO it was found that there was a significant association between television viewing and higher rates of daily consumption of sweets and fizzy drinks. The research results were, published in the journal Public Health Nutrition. They analyzed children aged between 11 and 15 and found that children in Scotland, England, US, Ukraine all had an increased time schedule of TV viewing. Statistics show that Scots youngsters were 31% more likely to consume fizzy drinks and 26% more likely to eat sweets with each additional hour of television watched.

They were 12% less likely to eat vegetables and 15% less likely to eat fresh fruit with each extra hour spent in front of the box. The research said that this may well put youngsters at a greater risk of obesity and poorer nutritional status. Hence more efforts are to be directed in the directions such that children and adolescents are promoted to eat healthy foods and replace TV viewing time with alternative activities. Ministers also want to introduce obesity tests for primary school children.
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It means five-year-olds would be weighed and measured to assess if they are clinically overweight. Those who fail the test could be referred to a dietician. Consumer groups and the British Heart Foundation have called for a ban on junk food advertising before the 9pm. Scots children are among the fattest in the world with one in five 12-year-olds classed as clinically obese, one in 10 as severely obese and one in three as overweight.
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