TVs in bedroom may boost obesity in children

If your child asks for a TV in their room, you may want to think twice before agreeing. A new study published in JAMA Pediatrics concludes that children who have a TV in their bedroom are more likely to gain weight compared to children who don't.

Researchers from the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth performed a survey of 6,522 boys and girls between 10 and 14 years of age by calling them and asking questions. Using sample weights of typical U.S. children at those ages, the researchers were able to determine the individuals’ baseline weight. Their height and body mass index (BMI) was reported by them and their parents at two and four years after baseline.

About 59 percent of participants had a TV in their bedroom at the beginning of the study. TVs were more common for boys and families of lower income. These kids reported a higher level of TV watching and video game playing compared to those without TVs in their bedrooms.

The results showed children with TVs in their bedrooms had an increased BMI of 0.57 two years after baseline and 0.75 increase four years after baseline. Why? Researchers think TV may interrupt sleeping patterns and influence their food choices due to more advertisement exposure. But these are only hypotheses since these factors were not monitored during the study.

Overall, the researchers recommended TVs be removed from children’s bedrooms to help prevent obesity. But it’s also noted that this study, which started in 2003, does not reflect the myriad of electronic devices children use.

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