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TV in the bedroom: Can it harm kids' health?

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2012-12-11 13:55

A new investigation from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, LA finds children who view television in the bedroom are more likely to have a high waist circumference, visceral fat and higher risks for metabolic disorders than their counterparts who don’t have access to television in the bedroom.

Preventing childhood obesity has been a focus of research and public health officials. Results of studies show just 2 hours of TV viewing time can significantly increase the odds of childhood obesity.

Lead investigator Peter T. Katzmarzyk, PhD explained in a media release, that TV viewing in the bedroom is linked specifically to the area of the body where fat deposits are found – in the waist and deep in the belly surrounding the organs and under the skin.

When the researchers compared children who don’t have a TV in the bedroom to those that do, they found kids who watch television in their rooms were more likely to have larger waists, more fat mass and dangerous subcutaneous and visceral fat than their peers.

The study authors note that 70 percent of children age 8 to 18 have a TV in the bedroom. One-third of youth are considered obese. On average, television viewing accounts for 4.5 hours of daily activity among youth. Children in the study with televisions in the bedroom were more likely to watch TV longer.

For the study, researchers looked at data from adolescents aged 5-18 in Baton Rouge who were evaluated for body mass index (BMI), HDL or good cholesterol and triglyceride levels, blood pressure, stomach fat, overall fat mass and glucose levels.

Participants were sent questionnaires that included how much television they watched - 0 –2 hours, 3–4 hours, or greater than 5 hours a day and specifically if they had a television in the bedroom. They were also asked about their food consumption - whether they ate fruits and vegetables, how often they ate sweets like candy and donuts or consumed soft drinks or dairy.

The highest level of fat mass was found among youth who watched more than 2.5 hours of television each day. More than 2 hours of TV time each raised the odds of having a high level of fat mass 2.5 times.

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