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TV in a U.S. child's bedroom may be linked to weight gain

March 3, 2014 at 3:01 PM
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LEBANON, N.H., March 3 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers suggest removing televisions from the bedrooms of children may be helpful in the nation's fight against child obesity.

Diane Gilbert-Diamond of the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth in Lebanon, N.H., and colleagues said more than a third of U.S. children and adolescents are overweight or obese and an estimated 71 percent of children and adolescents ages 8 to 18 have bedroom TVs.

The authors conducted a telephone survey in 2003 of 6,522 boys and girls ages 10 to 14 asking questions about bedroom televisions. Body mass index was based on self-reporting and parent-reported weight and height after baseline numbers were given by children or parents.

At baseline, 59.1 percent of the children surveyed reported having a bedroom television. More boys, ethnic minorities and children of lower socioeconomic status reported bedroom televisions, Gilbert-Diamond said.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics, found having a bedroom television was associated with an excess BMI of 0.57 at age 2 and 0.75 at age 4 of follow-up, and a BMI gain of 0.24 from ages 2 to 4.

The study authors did not investigate causal reasons, but they speculated the association could possibly be due to disrupted sleep patterns or greater exposure to child-targeted food advertising.

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