This finding came from a study in American Journal of Preventive Medicine which showed that a child's waist size may greatly increase with prolonged TV viewing. The research is similar to a prior report which indicated that children's muscular fitness decreases the more hours they spend watching TV, while their waistline gets bigger.
Kids between the ages of 8 and 18 in the United States watch an estimated 4.5 hours of television each day, and a TV is found in the bedroom of 70% of these children.
Obesity affects one-third of adolescents aged 6 to 19. Previous research demonstrated that childhood obesity can be prevented by sitting down to a family dinner more frequently and reducing the amount of TV viewed.
Studies have also shown that the amount of television viewed as a child remains the same in adulthood, therefore, the person becomes overweight and ends up with high total cholesterol.
A team of researchers, from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, LA, demonstrated the association between having and viewing television in the bedroom and obesity in children, particularly elevated waist circumference.
Peter T. Katzmarzyk, PhD, leading researcher, said:
"The established association between TV and obesity is predominantly based on BMI. The association between TV and fat mass, adiposity stored in specific depots (including abdominal subcutaneous and visceral adipose tissue), and cardiometabolic risk, is less well understood. It is hypothesized that higher levels of TV viewing and the presence of a TV in the bedroom are associated with depot-specific adiposity and cardiometabolic risk."
There were 369 kids and teens aged 5 to 18 from Baton Rouge, Louisiana who were involved in the study between 2010 and 2011. There was a balance between BMI status, gender, age, and ethnicity among the subjects, who were assessed for:
- fat mass
- stomach fat
- waist circumference
- fasting triglycerides
- resting blood pressure
- high-density lipoprotein cholesterol
In contrast to the children who did not have a TV in their room, those with a bedroom TV had a higher waist circumference, more fat and more subcutaneous adipose tissue mass.
The subjects who had a bedroom TV and who also viewed over 2 hours of TV a day, were shown to have 2.5 times the odds of the highest levels of fat mass.
Watching television for over five hours doubled the likelihood of being in the top quartile for visceral adipose tissue mass.
A TV in the bedroom was linked to three times the odds of:
- high waist circumference
- high cardiometabolic risk
- elevated triglycerides
"There was a stronger association between having a TV in the bedroom versus TV viewing time, with the adiposity and health outcomes. A bedroom TV may create additional disruptions to healthy habits, above and beyond regular TV viewing. For instance, having a bedroom TV is related to lower amounts of sleep and lower prevalence of regular family meals, independent of total TV viewing time. Both short sleep duration and lack of regular family meals have been related to weight gain and obesity."
Childhood obesity is a global problem that is causing concern in many countries. Childhood obesity-related hospitalizations in the UK quadrupled over a ten year period.