Children With Bedroom TVs Might Be at Greater Obesity Risk

Newswise 29 April 2011 

A new small study of Hispanic children found that those with TVs in their bedrooms were more likely to be overweight. “Bedroom TVs lead to more screen time, sedentary behavior, less parental support of physical activity and increased fast food intake,” said Du Feng, Ph.D., lead study author. Feng is a professor of human development and family studies at Texas Tech University. Her study appears online and in the May-June issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion. The researchers sent surveys to 315 West Texas parents of 597 children ages 5 to 9 in kindergarten, first and second grade. They collected information on children’s weight, age, gender and body mass index. “Seventy percent of the children had a TV in their bedroom, and 32 percent were already overweight or they were at risk for becoming overweight due to unhealthy behaviors,” Feng said. Children with TVs in their bedrooms spent 3.5 hours a day in front of the screen compared with 2.58 hours of daily watching by kids who did not have a TV in their room. The kids without personal TVs also had parents who encouraged physical activity.
Kids with their own TVs tended to drink more sugar-sweetened drinks, and eat fewer fruits and veggies and more fast food. However, while these behaviors contribute to obesity, the researchers acknowledge that the study did not link definitively bedroom TV watching with being overweight or having a higher body mass index.