Research Finds That Watching TV Helps Kids Put On Pounds

March 26, 1998

Despite living in a society that is increasingly weight and appearance conscious, many American children may be headed toward sedentary, overweight adulthood. Researchers at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center have found that as the hours of television watched by American children increases, so does their weight.

As reported in the March 25 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), analysis completed using the results of the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) indicates that one quarter of all U.S. children watch four or more hours of television each day. These children weighed more and were fatter then children who watched fewer than two hours per day.

"The problem stems from the fact that watching television is a sedentary activity but it's much more than that," said Ross E. Andersen, Ph.D., lead researcher on the project. "Children are watching TV, many times eating high calorie/high fat snack foods, and watching commercials for fast food, all of which may encourage more eating."

Of concern was the fact that 42 percent of African-American children routinely watched four or more hours of television each day. Rates of television watching were also high among Mexican-American children. Safety concerns were a likely contributor, since nearly half of U.S. adults believe that their neighborhoods were unsafe for children to play in. Other investigators have noted that African-American and Mexican-American parents were twice as likely to cite neighborhood safety as a reason to keep children indoors.

Of additional concern is the dramatic drop in physical activity among girls as they age from 11 to 16. While this may be due, in part, to changing interests and social demands, the study shows the need for parents and health care providers to encourage all adolescents to remain physically active. The fact that American children are getting heavier is a major public health concern because overweight children are more likely to become overweight adults.

Andersen notes that "more research is clearly indicated to help us identify effective strategies to keep children physically active as they move through adolescence." He encourages all health care providers, teachers, community leaders and parents to look for ways to promote more physical activity among children while reducing sedentary past times.

NHANES III is a survey conducted by the CDC: National Center for Health Statistics and was designed to produce a nationally representative sample of the US population. Over 4,000 children, ages 8-16, took part in the survey, which consisted of an in-home interview and a detailed clinical examination.

--JHMI--

Media contacts: Shelly Belcher (410) 550-0128
Sandy Reckert


Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions' news releases are available on a PRE-EMBARGOED basis on EurekAlert at http://www.eurekalert.org, Newswise at http://www.newswise.com and from the Office of Communications and Public Affairs' direct e-mail news release service. To enroll, call 410-955-4288 or send e-mail to bsimpkin@welchlink.welch.jhu.edu or 76520.560@compuserve.com.

On a POST-EMBARGOED basis find them at http://hopkins.med.jhu.edu, Quadnet at http://www.quad-net.com, ScienceDaily at http://www.sciencedaily.com or on CompuServe in the SciNews-MedNews library of the Journalism Forum under file extension ".JHM".
-end-


Johns Hopkins Medicine

Related Physical Activity Articles from Brightsurf:

Physical activity in the morning could be most beneficial against cancer
The time of day when we exercise could affect the risk of cancer due to circadian disruption, according to a new study with about 3,000 Spanish people  

Physical activity and sleep in adults with arthritis
A new study published in Arthritis Care & Research has examined patterns of 24-hour physical activity and sleep among patients with rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and knee osteoarthritis.

Regular physical activity seems to enhance cognition in children who need it most
Researchers at the Universities of Tsukuba and Kobe re-analyzed data from three experiments that tested whether physical activity interventions lead to improved cognitive skills in children.

The benefits of physical activity for older adults
New findings published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports reveal how physically active older adults benefit from reduced risks of early death, breast and prostate cancer, fractures, recurrent falls, functional limitations, cognitive decline, dementia, Alzheimer's disease, and depression.

Physical activity may protect against new episodes of depression
Increased levels of physical activity can significantly reduce the odds of depression, even among people who are genetically predisposed to the condition.

Is physical activity always good for the heart?
Physical activity is thought to be our greatest ally in the fight against cardiovascular disease.

Physical activity in lessons improves students' attainment
Students who take part in physical exercises like star jumps or running on the spot during school lessons do better in tests than peers who stick to sedentary learning, according to a UCL-led study.

Physical activity may attenuate menopause-associated atherogenic changes
Leisure-time physical activity is associated with a healthier blood lipid profile in menopausal women, but it doesn't seem to entirely offset the unfavorable lipid profile changes associated with the menopausal transition.

Are US adults meeting physical activity guidelines?
The proportion of US adults adhering to the 'Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans' from the US Department of Health and Human Services didn't significantly improve between 2007 and 2016 but time spent sitting increased.

Children from disadvantaged backgrounds do less vigorous physical activity
Children from disadvantaged backgrounds and certain ethnic minority backgrounds, including from Pakistani and Bangladeshi backgrounds, have lower levels of vigorous physical activity, according to researchers at the University of Cambridge.

Read More: Physical Activity News and Physical Activity Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.