The more television children watched at age 10, the more they watched in middle age, according to a new report that suggests the need for earlier interventions to get kids off the couch.
Over the course of 32 years, researchers from the United Kingdon monitored the television-viewing habits of 9,842 people born in 1970 from when they were 10 years old until they were 42.
At the start of the study, parents reported whether their 10-year-olds watched TV never, sometimes, or often.
Of the 1,546 participants who reported watching more than three hours of TV a day at age 42, nearly 83 percent had watched television often at age 10.
The study also found that people who watched more than three hours a day of television in middle age were more likely to be in fair or poor health.
The study examined the habits of children who were 10 years old in 1980 – before
The study leader said his findings support the case for early life interventions to prevent sedentary behavior, which can result from television viewing, in later life.
Prior research has shown that how parents monitor their children’s screen time is tied to the kids’ academic performance, their relationships with peers and their weight. Earlier studies have also shown that children who spend much of their time staring at screens - especially televisions, which require no hands to operate – tend to gain more weight as they age.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children above age two be exposed to no more than two hours of television and computer screens a day. Researchers have found children frequently exceed the recommendation.
A growing body of research shows that prolonged sedentary behavior is detrimental to the health of adults, even physically active adults. Earlier studies have associated TV viewing with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and death from all causes.
Source: Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, online August 21, 2014.
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