Kids Eat More in Front of the TV
> 2/23/2007 2:00:52 PM

In another common-sense indictment of our children's sedentary lifestyles, a new study confirms the suspicion that they tend to eat more high-calorie foods while watching television, whether they feel hungry or not. While this conclusion may seem obvious based on America's heavily-publicized obesity epidemic and its concurrent, virtuostic television addiction, researchers move beyond popular assumptions to confirm that following the screen simply encourages kids to sit for extended periods while snacking excessively.

The study took a unique look at the epidemic
, starting with a group of 30 kids, ages 9 to 12, whose weight measured out to around the national average for their age. To begin, the kids were all placed in front of computers and told to complete given tasks in order to earn half a cheesburger. After seven minutes, separate groups were established: some of the kids continued as before, where some were offered french fries for finishing the job and others were placed in front of a television while continuing to work toward the cheeseburger. The group who stayed at the computer amid repeated cheeseburger offers seemed to lose interest in the food after eating, while those offered fries were stimulated by the introduction of a new prize and those who sat in front of the TV simply continued to eat. In another, equally fascinating experiment, researchers gave children a set amount of a favorite snack food and told them they could eat as much as they liked. Among this group, some watched a standard tv show, some watched a repeating 1 1/2 minute video loop, and some watched nothing at all. The results of this test were even more skewed than researchers expected: those watching the show ate more than the other two groups combined, while those who were shown the looped video eventually lost interest and ate less.

While the link between junk food ads and eating habits is well-established, this study makes it seem as if the very act of sitting in front of the television encourages kids to overeat. Other studies indicate that, even among the adult population, people eat more frequently and consume more calories overall when meals are accompanied by television. In a surprising turn, those with active lifestyles also reported exercising twenty minutes less each day, on average, when they ate in front of the television. Boredom and a lack of energy - both byproducts of excessive television viewing- are also major contributors to overeating. Of course, parents are central to deterring this unhealthy trend. A first step is laying out clear positions (or establishing a "tv diet" of sorts) to regulate not only what kids watch but how much time they spend in front of the screen each day. It comes as no surprise that watching too much TV contributes directly to obesity, decreased cardiovascular health, and countless related physical deficiencies. This latest experiment only further confirms its trance-inducing power.

No comments yet.

Post Your Comments

Post a comment
Email Address:
Verification Code:
Input the 8 characters you see above:


Drug Abuse
Sexual Addiction
Eating Disorders
Alzheimer's Disease

About TOL | Contact Us | Defining Behavioral Fitness | For Healthcare Professionals | Links | Privacy Policy