TV Habits Predict Kid’s Waist Size and Sports Performance

Posted 09/14/2012 | By HealthCorps

 Just how much time is your two- or four-year-old spending in front of the TV?  By the end of fourth grade that viewing time may directly correlate to increases in your child’s waist size measures.  A recent study looked at the association between TV viewing time at a very young age, and the size of a child’s waist and his/her fitness abilities in the fourth grade.   Parents were asked in a variety of ways about their child’s home habits, specifically the number of hours their child were spending viewing TV.  Researchers then tracked the child from age 2 or 4 through the fourth grade.  They found that each hour of viewing time at age 2 ½ correlated to a decrease in the distance a child could jump at age 7 or 8.  That diminished distance translated to diminished abilities in sports like football, skating and basketball, where “explosive leg strength” is necessary.  Thicker waists were also noted in children with more hours of viewing time, when compared to the waist sizes of children who watched little or no TV.  And though the waist measurement differences were in millimeters, they were considered statistically significant and worrisome.

The authors of the study hope that future health policies will target environmental factors that are associated with too much TV viewing time (lack of neighborhood safety, lack of neighborhood public fitness spaces like parks, dearth of playgrounds with fitness equipment).  The researchers recommend that children over the age of two should not watch more than two hours of television per day.

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