Obesity more likely in child TV viewers

Children who spend too many hours watching television are more likely to become obese and develop high blood pressure, according to a study by the University of Coimbra.

Although these are not new revelations, the research was conducted in Portugal between 2002 and 2009 and involved more than 17,400 children aged between three and 11, providing an evaluation of the changing levels of child obesity in the country and establishing the links between sedentary habits and the family environment.

The study concluded that around 28% of young boys and 26% of young girls watch over two hours of TV a day throughout the week. However, at the weekend, the results are staggering, with 75% for boys and 74% for girls.

“Correcting these and other sedentary habits is urgent in order not to allow them to perpetuate and have serious implications in their adulthood. We have found a strong association between the amount of time children watch television and obesity, hypertension, diabetes and other issues,” said the coordinator of the study, Cristina Padez.

In order to change these negative habits, parents should limit television time and encourage active playing.

A connection was also found between the parents’ education levels and the weight of their children. “The lower their education, the higher is their children’s weight,” she said.