Watching TV Can Lead To Obesity In Kids: Study; Know Tips To Prevent Childhood Obesity
Childhood obesity: The researchers analysed five lifestyle habits: physical activity, sleep time, television time, plant-based food consumption and ultra-processed food consumption. Watching TV was found to be the top factor for obesity risk in kids.
Childhood obesity can be caused by watching TV and increased screen time
- Adequate sleep in early childhood is essential for weight control in kids
- Parents must strictly monitor screen time in kids
- They should also ensure adequate playtime for kids every day
Parents, please take note. Among the lifestyle habits that influence the risk of overweight and obesity in children, watching television is the worst, suggests new research. "Identifying habits linked to overweight and obesity in the early stages of life can help us to define preventive strategies against other conditions, such as cardiovascular and metabolic diseases during adulthood," said lead author of the study Rowaedh Bawaked, researcher at the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute in Spain.
Childhood obesity: Watching TV can lead to obesity in kids
The researchers analysed five lifestyle habits: physical activity, sleep time, television time, plant-based food consumption and ultra-processed food consumption.
The study, published in the journal Pediatric Obesity, was based on data from 1,480 children.
Parents were asked to complete various questionnaires on the children's lifestyle habits at four years of age.
To calculate the health impact of these habits, the researchers measured the children's body mass index (BMI), waist circumference and blood pressure at four and seven years of age.
Children who were less active and spent more time in front of the television at four years of age were at greater risk of being affected by overweight, obesity and metabolic syndrome at seven years of age, showed the findings.
The researchers also measured the time spent by the children on other sedentary activities, such as reading, drawing and doing puzzles. However, these activities did not appear to be associated with overweight or obesity.
"When children watch television, they see a huge number of advertisements for unhealthy food," said co-leader of the study Dora Romaguera from Barcelona Institute for Global Health in Spain.
"This may encourage them to consume these products," Romaguera said.
Ultra-processed foods, such as pastries, sweet beverages and refined-grain products, are high in sugar, salt and saturated fat and low in nutritional value.
The study showed that high intake of these products at four years of age was associated with a higher BMI at seven years of age.
Moreover, television viewing "discourages physical activity and interrupts sleep time", explained Silvia Fernandez, a post-doctoral researcher at Barcelona Institute for Global Health.
As the researchers noted, adequate sleep time in early childhood is essential for weight control later in childhood.
The study concluded that adult health depends on the establishment of healthy lifestyle habits during childhood: limited television time, extracurricular physical activity, getting enough hours of sleep, eating lots of vegetables and avoiding ultra-processed foods.
Other tips to prevent childhood obesity
1. According to paediatrician Dr Gorika Bansal, parents should avoid using phones or watching in front of their children and focus on spending time with their kids. Kids take all the inspiration from their parents and when they don't see parents using phone or tablets or watching TV, they too would not feel like doing the same.
2. Try to involve kids in hobbies like swimming, singing, dancing or any other physical activity.
3. Anywhere between 1 hour to 90 minutes of playtime is important for optimum growth and development of kids.
4. Parents should avoid showing nursery rhymes or poems or cartoons on their mobile phones while feeding their children. There should be no distractions while you are feeding a child. It helps children be aware of their satiety signals.
5. Promote healthy eating habits in children by filling their plate with colourful foods. Do not eat junk, fried of sugary foods in front of them.
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