Children's Food Consumption during Television Viewing

Department of Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, California, United States
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Impact Factor: 6.77). 07/2004; 79(6):1088-94.
Source: PubMed


Television viewing is associated with childhood obesity. Eating during viewing and eating highly advertised foods are 2 of the hypothesized mechanisms through which television is thought to affect children's weight.
Our objectives were to describe the amounts and types of foods that children consume while watching television, compare those types with the types consumed at other times of the day, and examine the associations between children's body mass index (BMI) and the amounts and types of foods consumed during television viewing.
Data were collected from 2 samples. The first sample consisted of ethnically diverse third-grade children, and the second consisted predominantly of Latino fifth-grade children. Three nonconsecutive 24-h dietary recalls were collected from each child. For each eating episode reported, children were asked whether they had been watching television. Height and weight were measured by using standard methods and were used to calculate BMI.
On weekdays and weekend days, 17-18% and approximately 26% of total daily energy, respectively, were consumed during television viewing in the 2 samples. Although the fat content of the foods consumed during television viewing did not differ significantly from that of the foods consumed with the television off, less soda, fast food, fruit, and vegetables were consumed with the television on. The amount of food consumed during television viewing was not associated with children's BMI, but in the third-grade sample, the fat content of foods consumed during television viewing was associated with BMI.
A significant proportion of children's daily energy intake is consumed during television viewing, and the consumption of high-fat foods on weekends may be associated with BMI in younger children.

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    • "The time constraint may also impact the mother's ability to produce household goods, such as breakfast, that improve health. Moreover, weight status may increase because time constraints have a detrimental influence on eating patterns (Matheson et al. 2004; Taylor et al. 2005); skipping breakfast is highly correlated with children's likelihood of being overweight (Dubois et al. 2006). Maternal labor supply also increases household income, which we expect to have a beneficial effect on adolescent health. "
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    • "Studies on the association between TV viewing and soft drink consumption are however contradictory. Some have found a positive association (Boynton-Jarrett et al. 2003; Feldman et al. 2007; Giammattei et al. 2003; McGowan et al. 2012; Miller et al. 2008; Péneau et al. 2009; Van Strien et al. 2009), others no or negative association (Dubois et al. 2008; Laurson et al. 2008; Matheson et al. 2004). To our knowledge, none have taken social norms into consideration. "
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    • "Because ad-free noncommercial children's TV channels like those in Germany and Sweden are the exception, these hours of viewing bombard children with advertising [26]. As a result, in the USA, foods consumed in front of the TV account for about 20–25% of children's daily energy intake [27]. In the EU, the Audiovisual Media Directive limits product placement and commercial sponsoring during children's programmes while still leaving member states adequate leeway in audiovisual media regulation; nevertheless, limits are stricter in some EU countries than in others [28]. "
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