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Does TV contribute to childhood obesity?

Kristi King
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

There are studies that show that increased screen time can be associated with weight gain in children. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under the age of 2 receive no screen time, and children over the age of 2 be limited to 1-2 hours per day. Limiting screen time will encourage the children to find other physical activities to help keep them busy.

Joan Salge Blake, MS, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

It's not just TV watching that contributes to childhood obesity but also too much total "screen time" that encourages sedentary behaviors.

Research shows that 8- to 18-year-olds devote an average of 7½ hours daily to entertainment media, including television, computer time, video games, and movies. Because they spend so much of that time “media multitasking” (using more than one medium at a time), they actually manage to pack a total of 10 hours and 45 minutes worth of media content into those 7½ hours. 

A combination of eating too many calories and partaking in too little physical activity contributes to childhood obesity. Screen time should be limited to no more than 2 hours daily.

TV contributes to childhood obesity by decreasing physical activity. The American Academy of Family Physicians states that children who watch more than one hour of TV a day are at increased risk of becoming obese.
Mrs. Marjorie Nolan Cohn
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

TV viewing time has a strong link to childhood obesity rates. Children are spending more and more time in front of the TV (or computer, video games etc). The lack of physical activity and often, increased snacking time (and amount) causes a positive energy balance. Once a child is overweight or obese, energy levels drop making it even harder for the child to be physically active and lose weight.

Judy Caplan
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

TV does contribute to childhood obesity. Kids can watch up to 5 hours of TV a day and that does not include other screen time like video games, computer, and cell phone use. If they are watching TV they are sitting and not moving. Additionally kids are exposed to thousands of commercials each year most of which promote junk food and behaviors which can lead to obesity. Turn off the TV and turn on life!

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.