by Aaron Tabor
, MD Diet & Anti-Aging Expert
The incidence of childhood obesity continues to increase around the world. There are many factors associated with obesity, whether it is childhood or adult obesity. Two related factors that are most commonly linked with the incidence of being overweight or obese are the lack of physical activity and the high rate of sedentary behaviors, particularly television watching. Research reports have suggested that television watching is associated with higher body mass index scores and poorer overall health. Because of this, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that television time for children be limited to no more than 1-2 hours of quality programming per day. Some research even suggests that children's total screen time (television, computer use, and video games) should be limited to less than one hour per day in order to reduce the incidence of being overweight.
It is often suggested that parents need to set a good example for their children by adopting healthier habits in regards to physical and sedentary behaviors; however, the actual impact of parental behaviors on subsequent child behaviors remain unclear. A new research study (free to read online or download) from the UK suggests that our television viewing habits as parents is strongly linked to our children's television viewing habits. For this study, the researchers examined physical activity measurements, overall sedentary time, and self-reported television viewing time from over 400 parent-child pairs. The investigators reported that:
- For both 10-11 year old boys and girls, sedentary time was positively linked to parental sedentary time such that as parental inactivity increased, so did their child’s inactivity.
- The risk of girls watching more than 4 hours per day of television was nearly 4 times greater when their parents watched 2-4 hours of television.
- When parents of boys reported watching 2-4 hours of television per day, their sons were more than 10 times more likely to watch more than 4 hours of television per day.
- Unexpectedly, parental physical activity levels were not linked to the physical activity of the children, suggesting that children at this age might not readily follow parental physical activity examples.
This is interesting research that sheds more light on parent and child relationships regarding physical activity and sedentary behavior. The biggest news from this study is that children with parents who watch more than 2 hours of television per day are more apt to watch an unhealthy amount of television themselves. Since television watching and other sedentary behaviors have been linked to poor health and increased body weight, it is important for parents to monitor their own level of television viewing in order to help reduce childhood inactivity. It is also important for parents to develop strategies to reduce child sedentary behaviors and encourage physical activity.
Aaron Tabor, MD
Diet, Anti-Aging, and Nutritional Cosmetic Expert
Author of Dr. Tabor’s Diet
and FIGHT NOW
Learn more about Dr. Tabor’s diet and anti-aging research at www.DrTabor.com
Learn more about Dr. Tabor’s breast cancer prevention book at www.fightBCnow.com
Jago R, Fox KR, Page AS, Brockman R, Thompson JL. Parent and child physical activity and sedentary time: do active parents foster active children? BMC Public Health 2010; 10:194. URL: https://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/10/194