TV watching linked to eating unhealthy food

July 11, 2012 By Randy Dotinga

Adults and children who watch more television have less healthy diets, finds a new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. For every age and gender studied, people who watched no more than an hour of TV a day reported healthier diets compared to those who watched four hours or more.

The findings provide evidence to support more extensive research into how TV watching may affect what people eat, said study lead author Susan B. Sisson, an assistant professor who studies nutrition at the University of Oklahoma. "The next step is to see if we can affect some positive change and design interventions to address TV viewing. If we address TV viewing, does improve?"

Previous research has found that people who watch more TV are more likely to be overweight or obese, but the new study is one of the first to look at , Sisson said.

The researchers looked at results from 2003-2006 federal surveys that asked adults and children about TV viewing and diets. The subjects included 8,222 , 3,343 , 1,749 kids aged 6-11 and 1,423 preschoolers. The study used an overall index to measure participant’s diet quality. As a result, no specifics were obtained about what foods people were eating.

Still, some studies have shown that kids lose weight if they watch less TV, possibly because they are not sitting as much, not eating as many snacks while watching TV or not seeing commercials for fast-food restaurants and unhealthy foods, Sisson said.

Victor Strasburger, M.D., chief of the division of adolescent medicine at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, praised the new study and said that although kids are immersed in a media environment, parents do have responsibilities. "Ignore the research at your own, and your kids', peril. No, media use is not the leading cause of obesity; but it contributes significantly. Parents need to avoid screen time for babies under 2 years old and limit total entertainment screen time--TV, movies, videos, video games--to less than 2 hours per day, per the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation."

Explore further: Study: parents choose limited TV time

More information: Sisson S, et al. (2012). Television-Viewing Time and Dietary Quality Among U.S. Children and Adults. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, In Press.


Related Stories

Probing Question: Does eating while watching TV harm kids?

August 17, 2006

Fixing a plate of animal crackers and a glass of milk for your little one to snack on while watching Dora the Explorer or Bob the Builder sounds harmless, doesn't it? After all, eating in front of the TV is part of our American ...

Too much TV linked to future fast-food intake

January 30, 2009

High-school kids who watch too much TV are likely to have bad eating habits five years in the future. Research published in BioMed Central's open access International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity ...

Children who watch more TV are fatter

February 26, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Pre-school children who watch a lot of television are considerably fatter than those who don’t, according to a major new study.

Recommended for you

Bacteria in smokeless tobacco products may be a health concern

August 26, 2016

Several species of bacteria found in smokeless tobacco products have been associated with opportunistic infections, according to a paper published August 26 in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, a journal of the American ...

Is tailgating toxic?

August 26, 2016

While tailgating this football season you may want to take a step back from the grill and generator—for your health.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.