New research recently published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics suggests that children who have television in their bedroom are more likely to gain weight, compared with those who do not have television in their bedroom.
The team, led by Dr. Diane Gilbert-Diamond of the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, Lebanon, NH, states that approximately 71% of individuals aged between 8 and 18 years have televisions in their bedrooms.
Given the high level of exposure to television viewing and video gaming, the researchers hypothesized that it could be having a detrimental impact on the weight of children and adolescents. To see if there was an association, the investigators conducted a telephone survey on 6,522 boys and girls aged between 10 and 14 years. Participants were asked a series of questions that assessed the presence and usage of bedroom televisions, such as "on school days, how many hours do you spend watching TV?" and "how many hours do you spend playing video or computer games?" The researchers used sample weights representative of US children aged 10 to 14 years to determine the participants' weight at the baseline of the study, while their height and body mass index (BMI) was self- and parent-reported 2 and 4 years after baseline. At the beginning of the study, 59.1% of children reported having a television in their bedroom. Bedroom televisions were more common among boys and individuals with a lower parental educational level and family income. Children who reported having a bedroom television also reported a higher exposure to television viewing, video games and movies, compared with those who did not have a bedroom television.
Results of the study revealed that having a television in the bedroom was linked to an excess BMI of 0.57 at 2 years after study baseline and an excess BMI of 0.75 at 4 years after study baseline.
The researchers hypothesize that bedroom televisions may disrupt a child's sleep. Furthermore, they say a bedroom television may increase exposure child to more junk food advertising and suggest that removing televisions from children's bedrooms might be an "important step" in the fight against childhood obesity in the US.
However, the investigators point out that the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that parents do not put a TV in their child's bedroom. They also note that the study was conducted in 2003 – when television was a more predominant form of media.
''Because children are now exposed to media through other types of electronic devices, such as smartphones and laptop computers, further studies should be conducted to assess whether these types of media exposure contribute to weight gain in children'', Dr. Diane Gilbert-Diamond said.