Less TV Does Not Equal More Exercise
> 2/5/2007 2:44:19 PM

The majority of unhealthy adult habits first arise during adolescence: poor diet, insufficient physical activity, sedentary lifestyle. Many have pointed to television as a primary suspect in the current obesity epidemic. Kids are more likely to sit and snack for extended periods while watching television while at the same time exposed to any number of ads for unhealthy foods and other products. Very few  of the many advertisements aimed at kids emphasize the importance of regular exercise. And, of course, kids are not going to exercise while watching television. A popular philosophy long argued that reduced TV time would contribute to weight loss and healthier lifestyles among kids, but new research disputes this belief, indicating that simply keeping kids away from the screen will not encourage them to live actively and get more exercise.

The current study, published in the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, goes against previous research which indicated that reduced television time might serve as part of a larger solution to weight problems among sedentary adolescents.
The newest conclusion seems to be that multi-media deprivation is not a sufficient motivator for physical activity in most cases. In the words of the study's authors:

"...television viewing and physical activity are separate constructs, not functional opposites."

When adolescents have their TV/internet/video game time reduced, they will most likely find another sort of sedentary activity with which to pass their time. One explanation for the contrasts between these conclusions and those of previous  research on the same topic is that earlier studies were performed in more controlled environments, whereas this one was randomly assigned within the general population. It makes sense that taking kids away from the screen will not neccessarily lead them to the gym or the backyard, but the fact remains that kids who watch inordinate amounts of television are much more likely to suffer from weight problems, and a little less time spent in front of a moving image certainly couldn't hurt.

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