The more hours spent in front of the television makes children’s muscular fitness worse
According to a world-first study conducted by researchers at the University of Montreal and its affiliated Saint-Justin Mother and Child University Hospital reveal for every hour of television viewing by a two to four year old adds to their waist line and their ability to partake in sports.View slideshow: Summer time activities for kids
Dr. Caroline Fitzpatrick from New York University who conducted this research at the Université de Montréal and Saint-Justine's Hospital Research Centre, Dr. Linda Pagani was senior author of this study.
Participants in the study included 1314 children from the from the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development database along with their parents. When children had reached the age of two and four years, parents had reported to researchers how many hours of television during the week and weekend did their children watch? The average viewing time were 8.8 hours a week at the start of the study which had increased over the next two years by six hours which had reached about 15 hours of television viewing time by the age of four. Among the children participating in the study, 15% had already been spending 18 hours a week viewing television as reported by the parents at that time.
Researchers had measured children’s waist size and performance on standing long jump in order to attempt measuring explosive leg strength.
When it came to waist size researchers found at 4.5 years a child’s waist size had increased a little less than half a millimeter for every extra hour of television viewing when they had been age 2.5 years.
Basically a child who had viewed television for 18 hours each week had increased viewing time of 14.5 hours a week by the time they were four.
Researchers also found that each hour per week of television viewing watched at 2.5 years was associated to a 0.361 cm decrease in the standing long jump test, which indicated a decrease in muscle strength. An extra hour's increase in weekly TV exposure between 29 and 53 months of age predicted an extra 0.285 cm reduction in test performance. Also important was that the waist circumference at fourth grade e increased by 0.047 cm for every hour of television watched between the ages of 29 and 53 months, corresponding to a 0.41 cm increase in waistline by age 10, or a 0.76 cm increase for those who watched more than 18 hours of TV a week.
Dr. Fitzpatrick states "TV is a modifiable lifestyle factor, and people need to be aware that toddler viewing habits may contribute to subsequent physical health." She continued, "Further research will help to determine whether amount of TV exposure is linked to any additional child health indicators, as well as cardiovascular health", according to a press release.
Dr. Pagani states "Across the occidental world, there have been dramatic increases in unhealthy weight for both children and adults in recent decades. Our standard of living has also changed in favor of more easily prepared, calorie-dense foods and sedentary practices. Watching more television not only displaces other forms of educational and active leisurely pursuits but also places them at risk of learning inaccurate information about proper eating. These findings support clinical suspicions that more screen time in general contributes to the rise in excess weight in our population, thus providing essential clues for effective approaches to its eradication,” as reported by Science Daily.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children over two years of age should not view more than two hours of television daily.
Last year a study from Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, Australia, revealed children who view television for over ten hours daily perform poorly in school.
Kids and Screens note toddlers screen time has been linked with problems later on in childhood including lower math and school achievement, reduced physical activity and being victimized by classmates. Weight gain is also another negative effect from too much television viewing time.
"The bottom line is that watching too much television – beyond the recommended amounts – is not good," states Dr. Pagani as reported by The Independent.