According to a study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, children who have a television in their bedroom have a bigger chance of gaining weight. This was after the researchers noted a one-pound weight gain among the 65,000 male and female middle school kids who took part in their survey.
“It is well known that screen time is related to weight gain, but we specifically wanted to look at whether televisions in their bedroom are related to weight gain,” said Diane Gilbert-Diamond, the study’s lead author, in an interview with reuters.com. Gilbert-Diamond and her co-researchers also mentioned in the journal that around one third of U.S. kids and teens are obese or overweight.
While the researchers did not specify the exact reasons for such weight gain, they did point out two possible explanations: increased exposure to TV commercials for food, and disrupted sleep patterns, resulting in the children sleeping later than usual or having poorer quality of sleep.
The researchers also reported that two and four years after the survey, having a TV in the bedroom was linked to an increase in body mass index (BMI) of almost one point, versus those children who did not have TV in their bedroom.
“If a bedroom TV is present from an early age, it could lead to substantial weight gain over the course of childhood,” Gilbert-Diamond said. “We really hope to help our children get a healthy start in life so that they have the best chance for a healthy future. Unlike other parenting strategies that require persistent monitoring and effort, removing a TV from a child’s bedroom is a one-time action.”
In the future, Gilbert-Diamond and her colleagues plan to look into other gadgets such as laptops, tablets and smart phones, and to find out if they have any influence or effect on weight gain via disrupted sleep or other reasons.