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Keywords:

  • Childhood obesity;
  • sleep;
  • television;
  • electronic media

Summary

What is already known about this subject
  • Short sleep duration is a risk factor for obesity.
  • Television (TV) in the bedroom has been shown to be associated with excess body weight in children.
  • Children increasingly use other electronic entertainment and communication devices (EECDs) such as video games, computers, and smart phones.
What this study adds
  • Access to and night-time use of EECDs are associated with shortened sleep duration, excess body weight, poorer diet quality, and lower physical activity levels.
  • Our findings reinforce existing recommendations pertaining to TV and Internet access by the American Academy of Pediatrics and suggest to have these expanded to restricted availability of video games and smart phones in children's bedrooms.

Background

While the prevalence of childhood obesity and access to and use of electronic entertainment and communication devices (EECDs) have increased in the past decades, no earlier study has examined their interrelationship.

Objective

To examine whether night-time access to and use of EECDs are associated with sleep duration, body weights, diet quality, and physical activity of Canadian children.

Methods

A representative sample of 3398 grade 5 children in Alberta, Canada, was surveyed. The survey included questions on children's lifestyles and health behaviours, the Harvard Youth/Adolescent Food Frequency questionnaire, a validated questionnaire on physical activity, and measurements of heights and weights. Random effect models were used to assess the associations of night-time access to and use of EECDs with sleep, diet quality, physical activity, and body weights.

Results

Sixty-four percent of parents reported that their child had access to one or more EECDs in their bedroom. Access to and night-time use of EECDs were associated with shortened sleep duration, excess body weight, poorer diet quality, and lower physical activity levels in a statistically significant manner.

Conclusions

Limiting the availability of EECDs in children's bedrooms and discouraging their night-time use may be considered as a strategy to promote sleep and reduce childhood obesity.