What is already known about this subject
- A television in the bedroom is associated with obesity.
- Televisions are present in the bedrooms of many children.
- Little is known about the mechanisms linking bedroom televisions and body weight in children.
A television in the bedroom is associated with measures of adiposity. We aimed to test if this association is mediated by any of (i) time spent watching television, (ii) sleep duration, (iii) physical activity level or (iv) consumption of soft drinks.
Data were from 7234 boys and girls aged 10–12 years in European countries involved in the EuropeaN Energy balance Research to prevent excessive weight Gain among Youth project (Belgium, Greece, Hungary, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia and Spain). Waist circumference, height and weight were measured. The presence of a bedroom television, television viewing time, sleep duration, physical activity time and soft drink consumption were assessed by standardized questionnaires.
Almost 40% of schoolchildren had a bedroom television, with the highest percentage among Hungarian children (65%) and lowest for Belgian, Slovenian and Spanish children (all ≈28%). A television in the bedroom was positively associated with time spent watching television, soft drink consumption and overweight and obesity (all P < 0.001). The relationship between a television in the bedroom and measures of body size was partly mediated by total television viewing time (proportion mediated for waist circumference 8.9%; for body mass index 8.3%) but not sleep duration, physical activity time or soft drink consumption.
The strong association between a television in the bedroom and adiposity was at least partially mediated by television viewing time. The large proportion of European schoolchildren with a television in their bedroom is of concern. Parents should be aware of the potential consequences when placing a television in a child's bedroom and children should limit viewing time.