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.