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Study Determines that Television-Watching Increases Waist Size in Young Children and Decreases Muscular Fitness


A new study from researchers at the University of Montreal has established that for each hour of television viewed by young children, their waistlines grow larger, and their level of muscular fitness decreases.

Although it has long been suspected that a sedentary lifestyle contributes to poor fitness health and obesity in children, this study published online in the July 16th edition of the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity provides some interesting figures to support the theory.

Time spent watching television increases with age

The researchers examined 1,314 children between the ages of 2.5 and 4.5. The parents of these children were asked to report on the number of hours of television watched by their kids. 15 percent of the children were noted to be already watching 18 hours or more of television per week when the study began.

According to the study results, the children viewed about 9 hours of television each week on average. However, as the kids grew older, the amount of time devoted to watching television did in fact, increase. The researchers noticed that television viewing time tended to increase by 6 hours as the study participants grew older. This meant that on average, 4.5 year old kids had increased their television watching to around 14.8 hours per week.

Extra hours watching television translates into increased waist size and decreased leg strength

The researchers also determined that the waist size of the children increased by just under half a millimeter for each additional hour that a child spent watching television, compared to the beginning of the study. In other words, a 4.5 year old child who reportedly watches 18 hours of television every week, would experience an 8 millimeter increase to his/her waist size by 10 years of age.

The researchers also tested the children's ability to perform a standing long jump test, which measures leg strength. The children achieved .36 centimeters less in the long jump, for every added hour of television watching.

Good habits start young

Although these figures may not sound too bad, the researchers have pointed out that the increased weight can add up as the child grows older. Another concern involves the development of positive fitness habits and behaviours during these critical years of childhood.

Spending fewer hours watching television, frees up more time for children to participate in sporting activities and other healthy pastimes.

Source: CBS News