Putting a television in a child's bedroom may be setting them up for excess weight gain over the next few years, suggests a new study.
Researchers found that children who slept in bedrooms with TVs gained more weight each year over the next few years, than kids without TVs in their rooms.
It's well known that screen time is related to weight gain, but this study specifically looked at whether televisions in the bedroom are related to weight gain.
The researchers hypothesized that bedroom television may disrupt sleep; sleep disruption is known to cause weight gain.
The team used data collected from an ongoing study of U.S. teens. About 6,500 kids between 10 and 14 years old were recruited in 2003 to take a telephone survey. Those children and teens also answered questions two years later and again four years later.
About 59 percent of participants reported having TVs in their bedrooms.
Overall, the participants who reported having TVs in their bedrooms had larger increases in their body mass index - a measure of weight in relation to height - after two and four years, compared to those who didn't have TVs in the bedroom.
The difference translates to about one extra pound of weight gain each year among participants with bedroom TVs.
While one additional pound each year may not seem like much, that weight can add up throughout childhood.
"If a bedroom TV is present from an early age, it could lead to substantial weight gain over the course of childhood," the researchers said.
Source: JAMA Pediatrics, online March 3, 2014.
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