The associations between TV viewing, food intake, and BMI. A prospective analysis of data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children

School of Psychology, Deakin University, Victoria, Australia. Electronic address: .
Appetite (Impact Factor: 2.52). 10/2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.appet.2012.09.009

ABSTRACT a b s t r a c t Objective: Despite cross-sectional evidence of a link between TV viewing and BMI in early childhood, there has been limited longitudinal exploration of this relationship. The aim of the present study was to explore the potential bi-directionality of the relationship between TV viewing and child BMI. A second-ary aim was to evaluate whether this relationship is mediated by dietary intake. Study design: Parents of 9064 children (4724 recruited at birth, 4340 recruited at age 4) from the Longi-tudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) completed measures of their child's dietary intake and TV viewing habits at three equidistant time points, separated by 2 years. Objective measures of height and weight were also obtained at each time point to calculate BMI. Cross-lagged panel analyses were con-ducted to evaluate potential bi-directional associations between TV viewing and child BMI, and to eval-uate mediation effects of dietary intake for this relationship. Results: Our longitudinal findings suggest that the relationship between TV viewing and BMI is bi-direc-tional: Individuals who watch TV are more likely to gain weight, and individuals who are heavier are also more likely to watch TV. Interestingly, dietary intake mediated the BMI-TV viewing relationship for the older children, but not for the birth cohort. Conclusions: Present findings suggest that sedentary behaviours, particularly when coupled with unhealthy dietary habits, constitute a significant risk factor for excessive weight gain in early childhood. Interventions targeted at helping parents to develop healthy TV viewing and eating habits in their young children are clearly warranted.

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