Risk of obesity among children increases with a TV in bedroom

Risk of obesity among children increases with a TV in bedroom

Young children with televisions in their bedrooms are more likely to be overweight later in childhood, according to a study by University College London (UCL).

The more time spent watching TV, the more likely a child was to put on weight later on. This was especially true for girls, based on data on more than 12,000 young children in the UK.

At the age of seven, more than 50 per cent of the participants had a TV in their bedroom, and for the study their parents were asked to say how many hours their child spent watching TV.

All of the participants had their weight and height measured, along with their body fat, which helped the researchers decide whether a child was overweight or just had more muscle.

The team had weight and height data from when the children were three years old too, allowing them to be confident children were not watching TV in their bedroom due to already being overweight.

The researchers measured each child’s BMI and body fat percentage when they reached 11 years old. They found that girls with a TV in their bedroom when they were seven were 30 per cent more likely to be overweight at age 11, compared to girls who did not have a TV in their bedroom. For boys, the risk was around 20 per cent for the same scenario.

“Ironically, while our screens have become flatter, our children have become fatter,” the authors wrote.

Dr Anja Heilmann, lead author, said: “Childhood obesity in the UK is a major public health problem. In England, about one-third of all 11 year olds are overweight and one in five are obese.

“Our study shows that there is a clear link between having a TV in the bedroom as a young child and being overweight a few years later.

“Future childhood obesity prevention strategies should consider access to TVs in children’s bedrooms as a risk factor for obesity,” she continued.

The research was published in the International Journal of Obesity.

Related Articles