Putting the kids in front of the TV is putting them in danger of obesity according to a recent study compared to other activities. This is particularly dangerous for boys who watch more TV than girls.
The study by UniSA investigated the impact of different sitting behaviours – watching television, playing videogames, playing computer, sitting down to eat, or travelling in a car – and found that watching TV is more strongly associated with obesity in both boys and girls than any other type of sitting.
UniSA researcher, Dr Margarita Tsiros says the study provides new insights about the impact of sedentary behaviours on children.
“It’s no surprise that the more inactive a child is, the greater their risk of being overweight,” Dr Tsiros says.
“But not all sedentary behaviours are created equal when it comes to children’s weight. This research suggests that how long children spend sitting may be less important that what they do when they are sitting.
“For instance, some types of sitting are more strongly associated with body fat in children than others, and time spent watching TV seems to be the worst culprit.”
The study assessed the sedentary behaviours of 234 Australian children aged 10-13 years who either were of a healthy weight (74 boys, 56 girls) or classified as obese (56 boys, 48 girls).
The study found that children spent more than 50 per cent of their day sitting, with television dominating their time for 2.5 – 3 hours each day. This excluded sleeping.
“Boys not only watched more TV than girls – an extra 37 minutes per day – but also spent significantly more time playing video games,” Dr Tsiros says.
“Video gaming and computer use are popular past times, but our data suggests these activities may be linked with higher body fat in boys.
“Boys who are sitting for longer than 30 minutes may also have higher body fat, so it’s important to monitor their screen and sitting time and ensure they take regular breaks.”