Scientists have discovered that watching television for an hour increases a child's dietary intake by about 167 calories thereby adding over than six kilograms to their weight over a year.
This study has been the first to put an exact figure has been put on the influence of television on the diets of children.
Television advertisements have increased the intake of snacks, sweets and fast foods. Following the study health experts have called for urgent guidelines on the amount of TV time a child should have.
The number of children between the ages of two and fifteen who fall in the overweight or obese category have increased to one million, in addition to an increased number of type II diabetes, more common among middle-aged adults. This generation of British children have been expected to have shorter life span than their parents, as a result of this.
This study has corrected a common misconception that children gain weight watching television only because it is often combined with sitting and snacking in front of the screen. While this study showed that the increase in calories was mostly explained by them eating more of the snack foods they had seen advertised.
A second study, at the University of Michigan, found that young children exposed to two or more hours of television a day were three times more likely to be overweight than children watching fewer than two hours.
Although the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under two be limited to less than two hours of television a day, there is no official guidance in Britain.
Paul Gateley, a professor of exercise and obesity at Leeds Metropolitan University, has called on the Government to recommend that children watch less than two hours of television a day.
According to him the lack of Government guidance on this is one of the biggest problems with the obesity issue.