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Here's Why You Shouldn't Put A TV In Your Child's Room

Children spend many hours sitting in front of the television, without any physical activity, is one of the major changes identified among the changing generation.

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The number of hours spent watching TV is linked to increased body fat

Obesity is increasing at an alarming rate throughout the world. Today it is estimated that there are more than 300 million obese people worldwide. Obesity is a condition of excess body fat often associated with a large number of debilitating and life threatening disorders. It is still a matter of debate as to how to define obesity in young people. Overweight children have a higher chance of becoming overweight adults. Genetics, behavior, and family environment play a role in childhood overweight. Childhood obesity also increases the risk for certain medical and psychological conditions.

It is crucial to ensure that your child receives a nutritious diet, and engages in regular exercise so the child does not become obese. A recent study conducted by researchers from University College London (UCL) found that girls who had a TV in their bedroom at age of seven were at an about 30 per cent higher risk of becoming overweight at age 11 compared to children who did not have a TV in their bedroom, and for boys the risk was increased by about 20 per cent.

Children spend many hours sitting in front of the television, without any physical activity, is one of the major changes identified among the changing generation. This has reinforced an obesity epidemic.

"Ironically, while our screens have become flatter, our children have become fatter," say the authors of the study from University College London (UCL).


According to the study there are many reasons as to why having a television in the room leads to obesity. The child is more likely to engage in unobserved snacking, get influenced by the plethora of junk food commercials that air on the television and have a distorted sleep pattern which can also lead to weight problems.

The researchers used data on more than 12,000 children born in 2000-2001 who were recruited to the UK Millennium Cohort Study, set up to look at the influences on children's development into adulthood. They investigated the data from the age of seven to 11. More than half had a TV in their bedroom. They took a range of other obesity linked factors into consideration, such as household income, mother's education, breastfeeding duration, physical activity and irregular bedtimes. Mothers' body-mass index (BMI) was also taken into account to represent the overall food environment in the household as well as potential genetic influences.

The number of hours spent watching TV or DVDs was linked to increased body fatness among girls only, indicating a dose response relationship where the more TV the girls watched, the more likely they were to be overweight, researchers said.

But even so Professor Nick Finer, consultant endocrinologist and bariatric physician at UCL thinks that even though the study does not provide concrete proof that a bedroom TV could cause weight gain. It is still a highly powerful study that is suggestive even if the mechanism by which it could do so is unclear.

"The authors rightly do not say that parents should not put a TV in their child's bedroom. However it is hard not to think that parents concerned about their child's risk of becoming overweight might appropriately consider not putting a TV in their young children's bedroom.

In conclusion the causes of obesity are several and screen time is part of the bigger picture and further research is needed among older children and adolescents, as the use of screen-based media including computers, mobile phones and tablets increases with age. The study was published in the International Journal of Obesity.

(With inputs from PTI)

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