For years, as an educator in the field of early child development, I have been following the studies that have been coming out regarding the impact of television on early learning, language development, and reading skills. It is known that excessive television viewing fixes the child’s gaze which impacts the ability of the eye to track, thus making reading very difficult. Execessive viewing increases aggressive behavior in children under 5 and limits active play. We know that toy commercials influence our children and in turn OUR buying habits (anyone want some Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles???).
What we never considered is how much children’s programming influences our childresn’s eating habits or why. Yes, we all went coo-coo for Coco Puffs but this is deeper. This is impacting our children’s lives.
Ads for Unhealthy Foods May Explain Link Between Television Viewing and Overweight in Children
By: Harvard School of Public Health on Apr 21 2006 15:00:33
Obesity and TV
Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and Children’s Hospital Boston found that kids who spend more time watching television also eat more of the calorie-dense, low-nutrient foods advertised on television. Previous studies had demonstrated that children who watch more television are more likely to be overweight, but this is the first time a research team has found evidence for a mechanism explaining that relationship. The study results appear in the April 2006 issue of the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.
"We’ve known for a long time that television viewing is a risk factor for overweight, though the common perception is that this is due to the fact that it’s a sedentary use of time," said Jean Wiecha, the study’s lead author and a senior research scientist at HSPH. "This study provides evidence that television is effective in getting kids to eat the foods that are advertised, and this drives up their total calorie intake."
The results of the study showed that each hour of increased television viewing over baseline was associated with a total energy increase of 167 calories — just about the amount of calories in a soda or a handful of snack food, said Wiecha. Each additional hour of television viewing was also independently associated with increased consumption of foods commonly advertised on television, and these foods were shown to be responsible for much of the calorie increase. Viewing time seemed to have the strongest connection to additional consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.
I think it is time to turn off the TV, grab an apple and go throw a ball with the kids!