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TV watching toddlers show drop in fitness
A new study has revealed that every hour of television a toddler watches a week increases their waistline and compromises their fitness.
Researchers from the University of Montreal in Canada analysed the amount of television 1,314 children watched a week at 29 and 53 months of age, and the effect this had on their muscular fitness at age six and waist circumference at age eight.
To measure children’s fitness they took part in a standing long jump test where they were asked to jump as far as possible while keeping both feet together. The data was taken from the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development, a study of Canadian children which followed their development from five months to eight years old.
They found that children commonly watched 8.82 hours a week of television at 29 months old and more than 14 hours a week by the time they were 53 months old.
The findings showed that for each hour of weekly exposure to television at 29 months old, there was a 361cm decrease in the distance children jumped in the standing long jump test. For every hour increase in weekly television viewing between the ages of 29 and 53 months, children showed a 0.47cm increase in waist circumference. For those children that watched 18 hours of television per week, they increased their waist circumference by 0.76cm by the age of ten.
The study also suggests that children who watch more television may be more likely to eat snacks that are high in fat, contributing to their weight gain. The authors say that the findings support existing research that shows time spent doing sedentary pursuits such as watching television, regardless of time spent in physical activity, can predict health outcomes in children.
The study, Early childhood television viewing predicts explosive leg strength and waist circumference by middle childhood, is published in the International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity.