Toddlers who are allowed to watch TV tend to be less active and fatter than similarly aged children who don’t watch TV. According to a recent study for each hour of TV watched per week two-year-old children performed worse during a long jump performance test meant to examine physicality.
The study found that children who watched one extra hour of TV per week between the ages of two and four had nearly a half a millimeter increase in waistline circumference. Children who watched an average of 8.82 hours of TV per week experienced a waistline that was .41cm fatter. Youngsters who watched 18 hours of TV a week were a full centimeter wider in the waist by 10 years old.
The study found that 15% of children watched at least 18 hours of TV.
According to lead researcher Dr. Linda Pagani from the University of Montreal:
“The bottom line is that watching too much television – beyond recommended amounts – is not good.
These findings support clinical suspicions that more screen time in general contributes to the rise in excess weight in our population.”
Physical fitness in children was measured using a standard long jump test which is considered a good indicator of overall athletic ability.
Researchers discovered that for each hour of weekly TV watched at two years of age a child lost one-third of a centimeter by the fourth grade.
Dr. Pagani warns:
“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.”
The full study can be read in the International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity.
The group plans to further study the effects TV has on other child health indicators.