Skip to content

Health & Pregnancy

TV and Soda Linked to Childhood Obesity

Diet or Not, too Much Soda in Front of the TV May Put Kids at Risk
Font Size
A
A
A
By
WebMD Health News

Sept. 8, 2003 -- It's no surprise that kids who drink large quantities of soda or spend too much time in front of the television are more likely to be obese than other kids. But a new study suggests that it's not just the lack of physical activity or sugar in the soda that's to blame.

Researchers found that school children that drink large quantities of diet soft drinks were just as likely as those who gulped sugary ones to suffer from childhood obesity, and watching TV was much worse for their waistlines than playing video games or surfing the Internet.

The study shows that sixth- and seventh-grade students who watched more than two hours of TV a night or drank more than three soft drinks per day were more likely to have a higher BMI (body mass index, a measure of weight in relation to height used to indicate childhood obesity) than others.

The results appear in the September issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Study Sheds New Light on Childhood Obesity

Researchers say the findings suggest that experts still have a lot to learn about the current epidemic of childhood obesity.

The prevalence of childhood obesity has doubled since the 1970s, and obesity is a known risk factor for a number of health problems, including high blood pressure and diabetes.

Although watching television and soft drink consumption have been linked to childhood obesity in the past, the study shows the link runs deeper than previously thought.

"The findings that overweight and obesity were not associated with computer use and that they were associated with diet soft drink consumption indicate that it is neither the sedentary activity alone nor the calories in the soft drinks alone that can be implicated as a cause of obesity," write researcher Joyce Giammattei, DrPH, and colleagues of Loma Linda University.

Instead, researchers say that TV viewing and soft drink consumption may both be indicators of increased calorie intake because of other factors.

For example, television viewing is easily accompanied by eating and also includes frequent food-related advertisements that may induce more eating. In contrast, computer use is less conducive to eating because it keeps both hands busy and there is less exposure to food ads.

In addition, researchers write soft drinks -- diet and regular -- are routinely served with calorie-rich foods, such as high-fat, fast food burgers and fries.

Pregnancy Week-By-Week Newsletter

Delivered right to your inbox, get pictures and facts on
what to expect each week of your pregnancy.

Today on WebMD

hand circling date on calendar
Track your most fertile days.
woman looking at ultrasound
Week-by-week pregnancy guide.
 
Pretty pregnant woman timing contaction pains
The signs to watch out for.
pregnant woman in hospital
Are there ways to do it naturally?
 
slideshow fetal development
Slideshow
pregnancy first trimester warning signs
Article
 
What Causes Bipolar
Video
Woman trying on dress in store
Slideshow
 
pregnant woman
Article
Close up on eyes of baby breastfeeding
Video
 
healthtool pregnancy calendar
Tool
eddleman prepare your body pregnancy
Video