Summary: A new study reports 11 year olds who had televisions in their bedrooms at the age of 7 were more likely to be obese than those who didn’t.
A UCL-led study of over 12,000 young children in the UK has revealed that 11-year-olds who had TVs in their bedroom at age 7 had a significantly higher body mass (BMI) and fat mass (FMI) and were more likely to be overweight compared to children who did not have a bedroom TV.
Girls who had a TV in their bedroom at age 7 were at an approximately 30% higher risk of being overweight at age 11 compared to children who did not have a TV in their bedroom, and for boys the risk was increased by about 20%. The study, published today in the International Journal of Obesity, took a range of other obesity-linked factors into consideration, such as household income, mothers’ education, breastfeeding duration, physical activity and irregular bedtimes. Mothers’ BMI was also taken into account to represent the overall food environment in the household as well as potential genetic influences. In addition, children’s BMI at age 3 was included to minimise the possibility of reverse causation – the possibility that being overweight in the first place leads to spending more time in front of a screen.
Dr Anja Heilmann (UCL Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care) said, “Childhood obesity in the UK is a major public health problem. In England, about one third of all 11 year olds are overweight and one in five are obese. Our study shows that there is a clear link between having a TV in the bedroom as a young child and being overweight a few years later.
“We found that having a TV in the child’s bedroom was an independent risk factor for being overweight and increased body fatness in this nationally representative sample of UK children. Childhood obesity prevention strategies should consider TVs in children’s bedrooms as a risk factor for obesity.”
The research, which used data from the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS), found that over half of the 12 556 children sampled had a TV in their bedroom at age 7. This finding is well in line with other recent UK reports on children’s media use, which also suggest that children increasingly use portable devices such as tablets and laptops in their bedrooms.
The number of hours spent watching TV or DVDs was associated with increased body fatness among girls only, indicating a dose-response relationship where the more TV the girls watched, the more likely they were to be overweight. Part of the reason for this gender difference could be that already at this young age, girls are far less physically active than boys, as suggested by previous studies.
“The causes of overweight and obesity are complex and multiple. Screen time is part of the bigger picture and further research is needed among older children and adolescents, as the use of screen-based media including computers, mobile phones and tablets increases with age.” added Dr Heilmann.
About this neuroscience research article
Source: Rowan Walker – UCL Image Source: NeuroscienceNews.com image is adapted from the UCL news release. Original Research: Full open access research for “Longitudinal associations between television in the bedroom and body fatness in a UK cohort study” by A Heilmann, P Rouxel, E Fitzsimons, Y Kelly & R Watt in International Obesity Journal . Published online June 1 2017 doi:10.1038/ijo.2017.129
Cite This NeuroscienceNews.com Article
[cbtabs][cbtab title=”MLA”]UCL “Children With Bedroom TV at Significantly Higher Risk of Obesity.” NeuroscienceNews. NeuroscienceNews, 5 June 2017. <https://neurosciencenews.com/obesity-tv-children-6836/>.[/cbtab][cbtab title=”APA”]UCL (2017, June 2). Children With Bedroom TV at Significantly Higher Risk of Obesity. NeuroscienceNew. Retrieved June 5, 2017 from https://neurosciencenews.com/obesity-tv-children-6836/[/cbtab][cbtab title=”Chicago”]UCL “Children With Bedroom TV at Significantly Higher Risk of Obesity.” https://neurosciencenews.com/obesity-tv-children-6836/ (accessed June 5, 2017).[/cbtab][/cbtabs]
Longitudinal associations between television in the bedroom and body fatness in a UK cohort study
OBJECTIVE: To assess longitudinal associations between screen based media use (television and computer hours, having a TV in the bedroom) and body fatness among UK children.
METHODS: Participants were 12 556 children from the UK Millennium Cohort Study who were followed from age 7 to age 11. Associations were assessed between screen based media use and the following outcomes: Body Mass Index (BMI); Fat Mass Index (FMI); and overweight.
RESULTS: In fully adjusted models, having a bedroom TV at age 7 was associated with significantly higher BMI and FMI (excess BMI for boys=0.29, 95% CI 0.06 to 0.52; excess BMI for girls=0.57, 95% CI 0.31 to 0.84; excess FMI for boys=0.20, 95% CI 0.04 to 0.37; excess FMI for girls=0.39, 95% CI 0.21 to 0.57), and increased risk of being overweight (RR for boys=1.21, 95% CI 1.07 to 1.36; RR for girls=1.31, 95% CI 1.15 to 1.48) at age 11, compared to having no bedroom TV. Hours spent watching TV or DVDs were associated with increased risk of overweight among girls only. Computer use at age 7 was not related to later body fatness for either gender.
CONCLUSION: Having a TV in the child’s bedroom was an independent risk factor for overweight and increased body fatness in this nationally representative sample of UK children. Childhood obesity prevention strategies should consider TVs in children’s bedrooms as a risk factor for obesity.
“Longitudinal associations between television in the bedroom and body fatness in a UK cohort study” by A Heilmann, P Rouxel, E Fitzsimons, Y Kelly & R Watt in International Obesity Journal . Published online June 1 2017 doi:10.1038/ijo.2017.129