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Keywords:

  • children;
  • diet quality;
  • obesity;
  • television

Summary

The prevalence of obesity is increasing and continues to be a concern, particularly in children, where the condition may lead to chronic health problems typically seen only in adults. This has prompted researchers to look at the relationships between sedentary behaviours, such as television viewing, diet and obesity in children. Epidemiological studies have shown repeatedly that rates of obesity are associated with both increased media use and poor diet quality in children and adults. Such studies have also shown that hours of television watched are associated with an increased intake of nutrient-poor, energy dense foods and greater overall energy intake. In children, intervention studies that have imposed reductions in television viewing time have shown that reducing the time spent watching television may decrease energy intake and improve overall diet quality. However, these studies are confounded by the use of self-reported measures for television viewing time and dietary intake. Despite these limitations, the results are promising and more research could lead to a greater understanding of these relationships. Ultimately, clear and concise public health messages for children and their parents regarding the benefits of television time reduction would assist in the fight against obesity.