Television And Obesity
On average, Americans watch more than four hours of television per day. We're so sedentary, we don't even get up off the couch to switch the channels as we did in the old days.
Meanwhile, obesity rates are increasing.
When you sit watching TV, you burn fewer calories than pretty much any other activity, according to Dr. William Dietz from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Weight control is a matter of calories taken in versus calories burned. More calories taken in than used up results in weight gain.
- The average household has the TV on in the background for more than 7 hours per day.
- People viewing more than 3 hours of television per day are twice as likely to be obese as those watching less than 1 hour per day.
- As TV viewing time increases, so does snacking, while physical activity decreases.
- Researchers found that for middle-aged men, TV viewing and eating between meals was associated with weight gain. Vigorous activity, decreasing TV use, and changing eating habits resulted in weight maintenance or a modest weight loss over four years.
- The American Journal of Health Behavior reports that adult TV viewing time is associated with greater obesity risk. They recommend evaluating adults for acceptance of behavioral strategies that have been shown to reduce TV watching in kids.
As for the Kids
- Children watch almost three hours of TV each day, on average.
- American children watch 40,000 TV commercials per year and develop brand loyalty as young as 2 years old.
- Children increased their risk of becoming obese by 7% for every hour of TV watched on weekends at the age of 5.
- Children watching more than 2 hours per day on weekends are more likely to become obese adults.
- 14% of young people report having NO physical activity at all!
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a maximum of 2 hours per day of television/video time for children.
They go on to make specific recommendations including:
- Don't have the television on during meal times
- Move TVs out of their prominent places in the home
- No television in a child's room
- Have one or more TV-free days
- Plan family activities that promote physical activity
- Keep TV journals to see viewing habits and problem-solve
By the way, many of those recommendations are also appropriate for adults. Hide the remote!
- Cole VT. Television viewing in early childhood predicts adult Body Mass Index. Journal of Pediatrics. 2006; 147: 429-435