prof. e.

Mass Communication, [multi]media, methodology and much, much more!

Childhood Obesity and Screen Time

Posted by prof e on March 12, 2008

screen timeTurn off your TVA couple of studies recently published confirm what we’ve suspected. Screen time and obesity are positively correlated. And the news gets worse. A study out of Canada found that children from disadvantaged neighborhoods were 3-4 times more likely to fall into these high-risk groups. Another study, this one out of SUNY Buffalo, found that kids whose screen time was reduced lost weight. According to a report in Bloomberg,

Children whose viewing was eventually cut in half ate less, spent less time on sedentary activities and developed a healthier body mass index, a ratio of height to weight. The reduction in screen time didn’t translate into additional physical activity, providing insight into how sitting in front of a television or computer contributes to obesity in children, the researchers said.

Caveat Emptor: The Bloomberg article linked above is an advertisement dressed up as news. The article spends as much space pitching a $100 electronic device called the TV Allowance as it does reporting consumer information. This blurring of PR/Advertising and Journalism is almost as frightening as a 5th grade classroom full of 200 pound screen junkies!


26 Responses to “Childhood Obesity and Screen Time”

  1. Brandon Hopper said

    It’s really scary how fat the nation is getting. You can’t walk through Wal-Mart without the percentage of over-weight people you see dropping below 40%! Granted not all of them are obese, but it’s a bad example for our youths none-the-less.

    I definately think our kids watch too much TV, and also believe that contributes to the chunkiness of the children. You can blame TV stations like Nickelodeon, Disney, and even MTV. Also receiving some blame should be the video game industry. Kids would rather plop themselves on the couch, eat potato chips and play as Tom Brady on Madden ’08, than go outside and imitate him while playing football with their buddies.

    I remember as part of a campaign (Go outside and play day) a while back, Nickelodeon went off the air for a couple of hours. That’s all well and good, but what about the other 364 days of the year. It sounds to me like they were saying, “OK we’re going off the air for 3 hours, but we’ll be back at 3 p.m. so make sure you’re back also.” Basically I just think it was a PR ploy to look good, while minimizing lost profits.

  2. Zane Stockbridge said

    I agree with Brandon but believe that he left out a few things. TV stations and video games do deserve to be blamed when it comes down to this issue. But we can’t forget the role of parents, older siblings, and other role models.

    If the parents allow their children to sit down all day at the tvs and computers then they are to blame as well. Dad needs to revise his daily schedule to fit some time to play catch with his son. Mom should have a minivan to appropraitely be a Soccer Mom. Everyone enjoys participating in a physical activity. Parents should try to find out which sport or physical activities their children really enjoy.

  3. Zane Stockbridge said

    I agree with what Brandon said, but I also believe that there is another thing that causes childhood obesity. It’s caused by parents, older siblings, and other role models that children see face to face on a regular basis. If the parents or older siblings let these children just sit down in front of the tvs and computers then the blame is as much on them as anyone else.

    Everyone enjoys participating in some kind of physical activity. If children find out what that activity is at a young age then they will always partake in it. Granted you can’t be a soccer player or baseball player your entire life, but they will just have that routine of staying fit most of their life. Parents and siblings can help by keeping their children active even if it is something as simple as going to the playground at the park.

    Somethings like that are what really make the differences.

  4. Cody Ethredge said

    Beyond the hereditary traits; the correlation of heighth, weight, and so on; when the majority of the commercials leave use staring at beautiful models eating and smoking, it makes us all very attracted to these items even though they aren’t telling us that these are models not your average person. Then most of the commercials themselves are for food, we as Americans, being the television junkies we are, we can not go a day without being reminded we “need” to eat McDonalds or the latest junk food. Maybe more time needs to be redirected to physical activities.

  5. Blair Cooper said

    It is only obvious that children whom do not excersise will become overweight and unhealthy. This article makes it seem like we had an idea that this was true, but that they have proven the discovery. Childhood habits have always been linked back to their parents. Fair or not in most cases the apple does not fall far from the tree. The video games are not to blame, it is the unwillingness of the parents to force their children outside that is causing the obesity epidemic in America. Video games have just become the babysitter of the twenty first century, and junk food is an easy fix for a cranky fatty.

  6. Teresa Dupuis said

    First off, I want to address the issue of “Mom should have a minivan to appropriately be a Soccer Mom.” Be careful what you say, since over 1/2 the population is divorced families, you should not make generalized statements. And for the record, mom’s go out and throw footballs with their kids, too.

    Yeah, yeah, I’m off the soap box now. It seems that everyone has said it’s TV’s fault, but parents and siblings are to blame, too. I, being a single parent, agree. However, it’s not as black and white as that.

    In my home, yes, my kids get to watch TV. And yes, sometimes TV is watched for hours at a time (imagine trying to write a paper with kids who aren’t old enough to go out alone). And I grew up in the beginning of this era…when MTV was just starting (I remember their fist music video), and Nintendo had just come out. Even then, people were walking around saying that we were going to turn into couch potatoes and overweight. We didn’t need studies to prove it, we knew, and our parents knew.

    I think the bigger news should be not that screen time is to blame, but rather, what is being done about it. How are television and video game companies combating this?

    Dance Dance revolution. PBS has exercise and yoga. There are channels dedicated to health. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of some organizations, junk food commercials during children’s shows have become more scarce than ever.

    And yet, prime time Tuesday night, Biggest Looser is on, showing people working to get the weight off…and we sit on the couch, eating…whatever.

  7. j.payne said

    I agree with the first comment for the most part, but I don’t necessarily think that skinny is the politically correct way. skinny is fine but me personally would much rather see someone with a little bit a meat on there body’s supposed to just bone, because that inst considered healthy either. just because your skinny doesn’t mean that you are healthy. if you are a child and are obese i think it has something to do with your parents as well. parents are the ones who usually prepare the meal, take you out to eat and buy the food.they buy/contribute to everything that a child is consuming. also as a parent you are partially responsible. also, children don’t just have fun how they use too. when I was younger I was made to go outside and play regardless, which in the long run was beneficial for my health. kids now days consist their fun as watching TV for long periods of time and laughing at what they are watching.
    -the media paints this picture that if you aren’t skinny you are considered “wrong”. people with obesity take that into consideration and that makes them feel really bad about how they look, and ultimately puts them into a depressed mode and sometime it leads to them eating even more.
    -i say that if you are obese if you do want to become healthier don’t focus so much on becoming skinny. focus other important thing like reducing your heart disease, risk for cancers and blood pressure then then when you see the pounds coming off you set a goal and then sooner than later you’ll be at your ideal weight/

  8. Kenneth Moses said

    While reading this story it kind of upsets me, I feel as if being skinny doesn’t mean you’re normal or that you should be accepted in society. In the media I feel as if your only excepted if your skinny, or if you wearing all the expensive clothes, and if your pretty in the eyes of famous people. Obesity plays a big part in society but I mean being obesity is not always that persons fault. some are born like that, sometimes it just runs through the family, and at times people do have issues in life and feel the need to eat which helps them cope with there issues. But on another note I feel as if people should always try and lose weight, not to look thin but to be health so they can live a long and healthy life. One thing I do agree with is that kids do watch too much TV. Instead of watching TV I think kids should be active for most of there day. I mean there at that age where they are mobile and free to run around like kids should.

  9. Brittny Thompson said

    The fact that children now a days are becoming obseenly obese shows how much society has changed. Used to be kids wanted to go outside and play around in the mud now they would rather stay indoors and lay on the couch watching the real world. Part of the fault for obesity in children goes to the parents. They are the ones that allow their children to do this. Habits that are formed like this at a young age tend to carry over into adult hood. Children should have to deal with health problems at their age and one solution is to tear them away from the television.

  10. Caitlyn Jewell said

    It is too easy to blame the television programs, but they are simply doing their job. The real issue are the parents who let their kids constantly sit in front of the TV. The parents have the most influence in this case, not the television programs. It starts with the parents and the lifestyles they hold for themselves, and what they teach their children about health and physical activity. At these young ages, what the children are taught will be carried into the rest of their life. Childhood is the most crucial time for shaping a developing ones lifestyle and personality. It all starts with turning off the TV. Knowing it is that simple of a start do decrease obesity in children makes it sad to realize it all happened from a Television. That is a tragedy getting caught up in television programs when there is more to this world. Yes, there are children where this is genetic, but what percentage of obesity in children is not genetic?

  11. ryro said

    Its crazy to think that the more advanced our world get the fatter we get. We have developed so many devices to make our lives easier and less work for us, but it has made us lazier and unmotivated. We don’t feel the need to do things anymore because we have things to do them for us. How to fix this is the major problem. Technology is never going to stop advancing but how do we stop the obesity rate from rising? How do we get kids to stop playing video games instead of playing outside when we create better video games everyday?

  12. Rachel Stewart said

    All i have to say is duh! kids who sit around all day are going to be fatter than kids who are outside running around and playing. its up to the parent to get their kids outside and playing with minimal tv watching. my 9 year old niece doesnt know how to ride a bike and doesnt care to because she’d rather watch hanna montana for four hours instead. her brain function doesnt seem to be very good for her age either. im scared to see how this generation of kids will turn out.

  13. Ali Ritter said

    I think that child obesity is becoming a huge problem, and more responsibility needs to be taken by the parents to help their kids. fast food, video games, and the lack of interest to get outside and play is what is effecting thousands of children everywhere. Of course with out a healthy apetite and exercise your body will get out of sharp and gain unhealthy weight. Parents should help their kids become more active and watch more of what they eat.

  14. Devin Alfonso said

    Society has been growing in this direction for a long time. There are so many electronics to keep kids occupied today, they often do not bother going outside and doing anything active. Parents are often the problem when kids just watch tv all day and become overwight. They need to realize they are putting their kids’ lives at risk. Obesity can cause so many health problems, that it is amazing to me how many parents allow their kids to gain so much weight. Parents should care about their kids more than that. Hopefully this trend reverses so we do not have generations that get more and more overweight, for their own sake

  15. Alison Ritter said

    Thousands of kids are effected daily by not getting enough exersise or eating properly. Obesity has become a serious health rish, not only in adults but is now effecting teens. A leading factor in this is video games. Parents need to take more responsibility and watch what their kids are eating and help them become more active. This article relates to our class in alot of subject but i think it mostly relates in advertising. How how companies target younger kids.

  16. Niccollo Lopez said

    I find this article and most of the post about it to be off the mark. Ok, sure if all young kids do is sit around not getting any physical activity and eat foods that are not healthy for them, they MIGHT become overweight. I know people who are like what this article describe and they are not overweight. Out of shape maybe. But want i really find wrong with this article and some of these responses is that everyone is trying to pin this “epidemic” on television and, now more than ever, video games. People talk about how they know kids who sit in front of the tv for hours. My response is can any one turn off the television? Is no one around when these children waste hours and hours sitting in front of the screen? Children have parents for a reason. They can’t raise themselves. I have a six and an eight year old brother and they are limited to how much time they spend watching tv or how long they are on the computer. They can’t even get watch tv or get on the computer without asking. If someone would just pay a little more attention things wouldn’t be as bad. Its just that simple.

  17. Rachel Espinoza said

    Our nation has always had a problem with obesity. Its getting worse because now kids are forgetting about staying active and just watching tv. The example that the nation is setting for kids is that it’s ok to be fat.

  18. Kimberly Finnie said

    Media works in funny ways. At first glimpse you would look at this article as being a helpful attempt for parents to start monitoring their child’s screen time. Apparently, though, Bloomberg has other ideas in mind. Setting up the “study” as an advertisement seems deceitful to the readers who are putting their trust in Bloomberg’s content. I do have to hand it to them that it is a great way to infact “kill two birds with one stone.” Providing interesting reading material to keep it’s readers attention while also being able to promote “helpful” advertising. Prompting this fear in their customers that their children may be spending to much time in front on their TV’s is a great way to get these now concerned parents to want to buy a device to monitor their children. How can could they possibly feel guilty about their purchase when it is backed up by statistics and facts? It’s a bit concerning, but I guess you have to give it to them… how clever they are.

  19. Adam Winick said

    Adam Winick (MCNNM 101)
    Childhood Obesity and Screen Time

    i totally beleive and agree that this is a fact. With kids watching so much TV and playing vidoe games, kids are becoming obese. I believe that this is a flaw that is getting blamed on the media, but it is really the parents or the childs care giver. they need to make sure that the kids are going out and playing like kids use to do in the old days. this also proves that the media is doing a good job because ther job is to get people attracted to watching TV, and they are being succesful. The parents job is take care of there children and watch out for there well being, and if there kid is watching to much TV and getting fat thats is the parents fault. but as a kid i liked to take responsibilty for myself and my mistakes because that is how i was raised. and i think a lot of kids are missing out on good paretning and that is why there could be a good number of obese kids.

  20. Kraig Brownlow said

    This article is basically just telling us what we already know. Couch potatoes… are overweight. No offense to anybody who is overweight, but the pure fact that those who plant themselves in front of the tv are undoubtably going to gain more weight, than people who find productive, active things to do.

    The TV allowance is a good idea to lessen the amount of television watched by kids. It would definitely help to keep them from planting themselves there, and not moving all day. Or it would give them an incentive to do homework, exercise, or eat better.

  21. Corinne Meyerson said

    The huge amount of television that children and well, everyone is watching today has a huge impact on the amount of obese people in this country. So many kids and adults choose to sit and snack in front of the TV for countless hours. This is bad because they are eating but burning off literally no calories. Also, they could be outside being active and improving their health instead of vegging in front of the TV nonstop. Too much TV is a problem and it is up to parents to teach their children and implement in them that too much TV can lead to a very unhealthy and unrewarding lifestyle.

  22. Joseph Foley said

    As much as it hurts me to say, this nation is definitely getting bigger and much of this is due to the television. It’s so easy for someone to just pop on the tv and sit in front of it for hours in their own little fantasies. Gone are the days when kids would convene at a park for a game of touch football. I grew up being active and always outside just playing sports and games. I think parents should limit their childs tv time and suggest that they go outside and be active. I wouldn’t force any child to do so because some just aren’t the active type. But with a small suggestion children might take the advice and go be active.

  23. Jasmine Landrum-Jones said

    I agree with Corinne. Most families would rather watch a TV show while eating an unhealthy dinner instead going out for a bike ride, walking around the neighborhood or playing at the park. There are no calories being burnt here there is just eating going on. No brain stimulation at all. I would put most of the blame on the parents, it is their duty to teach their children healthy eating patterns and to be active so they will not become obese. The way children live as kids has a direct impact on their health growing up and as adults, so they need to learn the correct and healthy way of living while they are young.

  24. Whitney Johnson said

    I think that the obesity problem with our children today is ridiculous. If the time that a child spends watching TV is causing an increase in the consumption of food then, the time that a child should have alotted to him/her to watch TV should be cut in half. Honestly I dont even understand how obesity correlates with TV watching but obviously is a major concern. I think that its the parents jobs to make sure that there children are eating healthy and that there weight is at the level it should be. This is crazy that this media has such a grasp on not only us as a whole but also on children, who dont even know there are “side effects” to consuming to much media.

  25. charles cruz said

    This is a very good topic it brings out the question “did the tv/video game/computer make me fat?” If you say “yes” I would like to see proof of the video game forcing you to eat twice your body weight in junk food. If not each person should admit that they are happier to be overweight and eat the food they like then go and try to be the next pro football player. Some people like physical activities some people would rather not run if they can avoid it. Or maybe some young people feel that obesity is the better deal than exercising daily and only to one day not have the time to keep up with it and end up fat anyways. People should not worry about what others do unless it affects them directly and I don’t consider one person being fat and increasing your health insurance as a direct effect. No one made you get health insurance and no one made the other person eat 10 big macs each day. Live and let live or alteast go far enough away I don’t have to hear you because my tv show is on. Encourage the youth to read and eat healthy.

  26. Its actually a surprise to me to have stumbled upon this blog. I am currently writing a project proposal for District 60 to include a after school workout program because childhood obesity has continued to increase. Just like 4 years ago, children are glued to a screen, except now in 2012 that screen is a computer or telephone screen. It is very scary how dependent we have become as a generation to technology. In the recent “unplug” times, I believe that there is some need to control more than just how much a child eats because obesity is more than that.

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