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Obesity Blame Game: Is Weekend TV the Culprit?

Early Childhood TV and Parents' TV Habits Linked to Obesity
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Parenting Risk Factors

SUNY Albany researcher Kirsten Krahnstoever Davison, PhD, led a study of 187 9-year-old girls and their parents in central Pennsylvania. They tracked down 173 of these families when the girls were 11 years old.

As national averages predict, 40% of the girls watched more than two hours of TV a day. And it was easy to tell which girls were watching the most TV.

"At age 9 and 11, girls watched significantly more TV when their parents reported higher levels of TV viewing," Davison and colleagues write. "Furthermore, girls watched significantly more TV when their parents relied on TV as a leisure activity, reported watching television as a family, and did not limit their access to TV."

The researchers identified five parent "risk factors" linked to their daughters' increased TV watching:

  • Mothers watching lots of TV every day
  • Fathers watching lots of TV every day
  • Depending on TV as a leisure activity
  • Watching TV together as a family
  • Parents not restricting their children's TV viewing

The more of these "risk factors" a family had, the more likely it was that a girl watched too much TV. Girls whose families had all five risk factors were 10 times more likely to watch too much TV.

"Parents must serve as role models and create environments that allow and encourage their children to engage in alternate activities," Davison and colleagues write. "Reducing their children's TV viewing will require that parents turn off the TV, limit their children's access to TV in the home, adopt new hobbies that require activity, and find or create outdoor settings that will support their and their children's engagement in creative and non-TV-related activities."

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