Children Watching One Hour of Television Per Day May be More Likely to be Overweight

First Posted: Apr 26, 2015 04:09 PM EDT

Do you watch one hour of television per day? Even that little can cause weight gain. Scientists have found that kindergartners and first-graders who watched as little as one hour of television a day were more likely to be overweight or obese compared to children who watched TV for less than 60 minutes each day.

In this latest study, researchers analyzed data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey of 11,113 children who were in kindergarten during the 2011 to 2012 school year. As part of the study by the National Center for Education Statistics, lifestyle factors that could affect a child's educational performance were collected from parents, including the number of hours of television children watched and how often they used computers. In addition, their weight and height were measured.

In the end, the researchers found that kindergartners and first-graders who watched one or two hours or more than two hours daily had significantly higher body mass indexes than those who watched less than 30 minutes or 30 to 60 minutes a day, even after adjusting for outside factors.

The scientists also found that the children who viewed as little as one hour of TV daily were 50 to 60 percent more likely to be overweight and 58 percent to 73 percent more likely to be obese compared to those watching less than an hour. Computer use, though, was not associated with higher weight.

"Given overwhelming evidence connecting the amount of time TV viewing and unhealthy weight, pediatricians and parents should attempt to restrict childhood TV viewing," said Mark DeBoer, one of the researchers, in a news release.

The findings were presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies Annual Meeting.

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