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article imageWatching too much television leads to childhood obesity

By Melissa Horrocks     Jul 16, 2012 in Health
Children who watch too much television are at risk of childhood obesity, according to new research from Canada. An extra weekly hour of television can reduce the distance a child is able to jump from standing by 0.36cm.
BBC News reports, a Canadian study has shown that children who increase the amount of television they watch in a week, between the ages two and four years old, are of danger of bigger waistlines by the age of 10. In fact, the study showed that every extra weekly hour could put on half a millimetre to their waist circumference and decrease muscle fitness.
The study was printed in a BioMed Central journal and tracked the television viewing habits of 1,314 youngsters. Professionals advise that children should not watch more than two hours of television each day.
At the beginning of the study, researchers discovered that the average amount of television watched by the children was around 8.8 hours each week. Over the next two years, this increased by an average of six hours to reach 14.8 hours a week by the age of four and a half.
Researchers found that 15% of the children in the study, were watching over 18 hours per week by that age, according to their parents.
The research found that the effect of 18 hours of television by the age of 4.5 years, would by the time they reached 10, result in an extra 7.6mm of waist due to the child's television habit.
Watching television is bad for children's health and makes the child less active. It takes the place of educational and active leisure activities. Children who watched excessive amounts of television were at a disadvantage to other children who did not watch as much.
As well as taking waist circumference, researchers tested participants by carrying out a standing long jump to measure each child's muscle and athletic ability. It was proved that the extra weekly hour of television can reduce the distance a child is able to jump from standing by 0.36cm.
Panorama reports, researchers stated that more extensive research was required to work out if television watching is directly responsible of the health problems they observed.
Dr Linda Pagani, study co-author from the University of Montreal, said it was a warning about the reasons why children could become obese.
"The bottom line is that watching too much television - beyond the recommended amounts - is not good," Dr Pagani said.
Dr Pagani added: "Across the occidental world, there have been dramatic increases in unhealthy weight for both children and adults in recent decades.
"Our standard of living has also changed in favour of more easily prepared, calorie-dense foods and sedentary practices.
"Watching more television not only displaces other forms of educational and active leisurely pursuits but also places them at risk of learning inaccurate information about proper eating."
ABC News reports, the more television a child watches, the more at risk of obesity they are. Previous studies have connected childhood obesity with watching excess amounts of television. However, this research relates how time in front of the television affects a specific measure of physical fitness and explosive leg strength.
Caroline Fitzpatrick, the study's lead author, said "the measure isn't just important for children who want to be athletes."
"Explosive leg strength is an important measure of a child's overall physical fitness, their general muscular fitness," she said.
Children were selected from Quebec with 1,300 youngsters tested.
A few years later, when the children were is high school, research was carried out to measure their waist size and how they performed on the standing long jump.
More about Television, Obesity, Childhood, Study, Research
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