Does a television in children's room cause weight problems for children?
Having children in the bedroom with their own TV increases their risk of becoming overweight later in life. Girls are particularly affected by this negative effect. It is still unclear whether similar patterns are triggered by laptops and cell phones.
In their latest study, University College London scientists found that children with their own TVs in the nursery are more likely to become overweight than children without their own TVs. The doctors published the results of their study in the journal "International Journal of Obesity".
More than half of the subjects had their own television at the age of seven
When children spend a lot of time in front of the television screen, this leads to a harmful combination of risks to human health. For their study, the experts analyzed the data from more than 12,000 young children in Great Britain. The scientists found that more than half of the children had a television in their bedroom at the age of seven.
Parents had to estimate how much time their children spent watching TV
The parents of the participating children were asked to rate how many hours a day their children usually spent watching TV. At the age of eleven, the researchers then checked the body mass index (a ratio of height and weight) and particularly looked at the percentage of body fat.
Girls are 30 percent more likely to become overweight
It was particularly striking that girls with their own TV in their bedroom at the age of seven had a 30 percent increased risk of developing overweight, the authors explain. In boys with their own TV, the risk was increased by about twenty percent.
What exactly leads to the identified risk of being overweight?
Our study shows that there is a clear connection between a television in the bedroom and young children who are overweight, which occurs a few years later, the experts say. Scientists are not yet sure how the connection between television sets and obesity comes about. One reason for this could be that children get less sleep with a television in their bedroom. It is also possible that snacking in front of the television leads to obesity, the researchers speculate.
Screens are flatter but children are getting fatter
The greater impact of TV viewing time on girls who are overweight is likely due to the fact that girls are less physically active at this age, the scientists explain. They also call for special strategies to be used to prevent child obesity. Our screens are getting flatter, but our children are getting bigger, the authors warn.
Child obesity is common
It is conceivable that parents want to prevent their children from becoming overweight and therefore no longer put a television in the children's room. The results of the current study should be taken seriously here, the scientists say. Almost a third of England's 11-year-olds are overweight. About one in five children are even obese. For this reason, it is very important that the problem of childhood obesity is taken seriously and combated, the experts add. We know that high levels of screen time in children lead to increased risks of being overweight. The authors warn that using one's own television together with a more sedentary lifestyle, sleep disorders and unhealthy eating habits creates a particularly harmful combination. (as)