By Jamie Bologna
We’ve known for a long time that obesity is among the greatest health risks confronting Americans.
We also know that the challenge for many people starts early. In fact, children who are overweight or obese between the ages of three and five are five times more likely to be overweight or obese as adults.
Now, there’s new research out today that adds to our understanding about one risk factor for childhood obesity: televisions in kids’ bedrooms.
Radio Boston’s Anthony Brooks spoke with Diane Gilbert-Diamond, an assistant professor of Community and Family Medicine at Dartmouth and the lead author of a new study on childhood obesity and television. The conversation, edited:
AB: Professor Gilbert-Diamond, we’ve known for some time that TV viewing is an established risk factor for childhood obesity—what further information did you uncover in this study?
We found that even after accounting for TV viewing, having a TV in the bedroom is associated with about one extra pound of weight gain a year.
Just having the TV there, not even necessarily turning it on, just having it there?
We presume that kids with a TV in their bedrooms are watching them. But having the TV in the bedroom, no matter how much TV they’re watching, is associated with more weight gain.
Any idea about what’s behind this connection between weight gain and having a TV in the bedroom?
Our study couldn’t look at the mechanism directly, but we think that what’s going is that kids with a TV in their bedroom have more disrupted sleep. So, for instance, they may stay up later watching TV or may have poorer quality sleep after seeing the bright screen or watching exciting TV shows late at night.
Every phone, every laptop, every tablet can now be used as a TV. Is the lesson here that parents should really lay down much stricter rules about screen time in their bedrooms? Continue reading