Video Games, TV Double Childhood Obesity Risk
Children Who Play Video Games, Watch TV More Likely to Be Obese
July 2, 2004 -- Every hour children play video games or watch
television may double their risk of obesity, a new study suggests.
It's not the first study to link childhood obesity with time
spent in front of the television or playing video games, but researchers say
this study offers new insight into the scope of the problem.
"To our knowledge this study provides the strongest
evidence for an independent association between time spent playing electronic
games and childhood obesity," says Nicolas Stettler, MD, pediatric
nutrition specialist at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, in a news
release. "Our findings suggest that the use of electronic games should be
limited to prevent childhood obesity."
The results appear in the June issue of Obesity
Video Games, TV Raise Child Obesity Risks
The study looked at factors associated with obesity in 872
schoolchildren in Switzerland.
Researchers found that each hour the children played video
games or watched television doubled the likelihood that the child was obese.
Other factors that increased the risk of childhood obesity to a lesser extent
were having a mother who worked outside the home or a father who smoked. The
researchers speculate that unsupervised children may be more likely to eat
large quantities of snack food after school. They also add that parental
smoking may reflect a less health-conscious family environment.
Factors that lowered the risk of obesity among the children
included physical activity and eating breakfast.
In addition, the study showed that children from other
countries living in Switzerland were about twice as likely to be obese as Swiss
children. They say non-Swiss children watched more television and had less
physical activity than Swiss children. They add that differences in social
economic status also played a part.
Researchers say the disparity in obesity rates among these
children suggests the need for culturally sensitive prevention programs that
target the risk factors identified by this study.
"Because obesity is difficult to treat once it has been
established, obesity prevention during childhood is an essential component of
the efforts to combat this global epidemic, and further research on obesity
prevention is necessary," says Stettler.