According to American researchers, children in families that habitually watch television during meals eat fewer fruits and vegetables than those that don't, and consume more pizza, snack food and caffeine-laced soft drinks. The study from Tufts University in Boston was based on a study of the eating habits of 91 families.
A number of factors might be at work linking eating habits to watching television, but the researchers believe that a TV itself--and the kinds of food advertised heavily on it--might be a powerful influence.
High television viewing goes along with a cluster of family food behaviors where people tend to be unfocused. They want easy routines, no muss, no fuss, the researchers say. When a family is in that kind of mode there is a tendency to reach for easy solutions. People don't absent-mindedly grab an apple or a banana; it's more likely to be processed food.
TV meals did tend to be found more (in homes) with less educated mothers, those who had lower scores when asked about the attributes of food and attitudes about disease. TV while eating was also more likely in single parent households.
Finally television itself may have some sort of generalized effect, and the kinds of food more likely to be advertised on TV are incorporated into the family's eating habits.
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