One hour of TV a day increases young children's obesity risk

One hour of TV daily increases children's obesity risk

Watching one hour of TV a day can boost young children’s risk of being overweight and obese, according to new research.

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The study’s lead author Dr. Mark DeBoer, associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Virginia, said that children who watch one to two hours of TV a day are more likely to be overweight and obese in kindergarten and first grade than children who watch less TV.

Researchers analyzed data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey of over 11,000 children attending kindergarten in 2011 and 2012. The database included how many hours children watched TV, how often they used computers, and records of their weight and height. Most of the children were evaluated a year later using the same factors.

Kindergartners watched about three hours of TV a day on average, and those who watched one to two hours a day or more than two hours were more likely to be overweight than those who watched less.

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DeBoer said he was surprised by the findings since an hour is not that much time.

“Children who watched one to two hours of television a day were 43 percent more likely to be overweight and 47 percent more likely to be obese compared to children who watched less than an hour,” he said. DeBoer also found that the more TV children watched, the higher the likelihood they would be overweight or obese.

The study was presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies’ annual meeting in San Diego.

A 2014 study conducted by researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital for Children and the Harvard School of Public Health found that the more time infants and young children spend watching TV, the less time they spend sleeping. The researchers found that each hour spent watching TV decreased sleep time by seven minutes. The effects appeared to be stronger in boys than in girls.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children under the age of 2 get no screen time, and that children older than 2 watch no more than one to two hours of quality programming a day.

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