Too Much TV Time Can Make Even Toddlers Chubby
Kids who watch more TV may grow up to be fatter.
CREDIT: wavebreakmedia ltd
The classic image of a pudgy dad in sweats, holding a beer bottle in front of the TV, may now be complemented by junior in a onesy with a baby bottle.
This week, researchers at the University of Montreal released a study showing a direct connection between the time that kids aged between two and a half and four and a half years old spent watching television and their waistlines. Every hour per week adds an extra half-millimeter.
While that's a tiny amount, it starts to add up, said Dr. Caroline Fitzpatrick, one of the researchers. "Children are not watching one hour of television per week, but eight to ten per week," she said. By age 10, she estimates that 18 hours of TV per week adds three quarters of a centimeter, about a third of an inch. "I have friends who get excited about a centimeter, and they are 30 years old," said Fitzpatrick.
But beyond a few millimeters, Fitzpatrick said that it's about getting off to a bad start in life. "If you develop fat at an early age, there's a better chance that you'll be fat later in life," she said. And sitting in front of the screen creates bad health habits. "They are more likely to sit inside in the house in the warmth instead of going outside and playing hockey," said Fitzpatrick (this is a Canadian study).
Screen time also had a slight effect on fitness, according to the study, with kids who watch more not being able to go as far in a standing long jump test. For every hour of TV watching, the kids on average were able to jump about one-third of a centimeter (a tenth of an inch) less.
To get their numbers, Fitzpatrick and her research partner Dr. Linda Pagani followed 1,314 children in Quebec, asking parents to report how much TV the kids were watching per week at age two and a half and four and a half. In that time, the average amount of TV watching went from 8.8 to 14.8 hours per week.
So can kids go near the TV at all? Fitzpatrick recommends following the guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatricians: no TV under age two and no more than two hours per day afterwards.