TV Viewing Big Factor In Obesity

The more TV kids watch the more likely they are to become obese, according to a new British study, published in the Journal of Pediatrics.

Dr. Russell M. Viner of London's Middlesex Hospital and Dr. Tim J. Cole of University College London studied more than 11,000 men and women born in 1970, checking in on their viewing habits and weights at ages 5, 10 and 30.

They found that every additional hour of weekend TV watched at age 5 increased the likelihood of obesity at age 30 by 7 percent.

In another study published in the Journal, Dr. Kirsten K. Davison of the State University of New York at Albany and her colleagues found that parental TV habits had a major effect on how much TV their children watched.

The researchers surveyed 173 9-11 year-old girls and found that those whose parents habitually watched TV were far more likely to exceed the two-hour a day maximum recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

In an accompanying editorial,  Dr. Reginald Washington of the University of Colorado stated that excessive parental TV viewing is setting children up for a lifetime of doing the same.

"They are, in a sense, learning that TV is not only a normal part of life, but it is their chief form of recreation," wrote Dr. Washington .

The experts suggest a helpful resource for parents who want to reduce family TV viewing: the TV Turnoff Network at www.tvturnoff.org.