Alaska Native News reports that a new University of Montreal study found that every hour of television watched by 2-to-4-year-olds contributes to the child's waist circumference and ability to perform in sports by the end of fourth grade.
The study was published Monday in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. Researchers found that when children are 4 and a half, every weekly hour of TV increased waist sized by about 0.02 inches. It may sound insignificant, but those hours of TV add up. A child who watches 18 hours of television a week will have an extra third of an inch around their waist by age 10.
Senior author of the study, Dr. Linda Pagani, explained to Alaska Native News how sports performance suffered, too. "Trained examiners took waist measurements and administered the standing long jump test to measure child muscular fitness. We found, for example, that each weekly hour of TV at 29 months of age corresponds to a decrease of about a third of a centimeter in the distance a child is able to jump."
In Alaska, about two-thirds of the adult population is overweight. Obesity-related medical expenses cost about $460 million a year. Anchorage recently received some good news amid otherwise bleak statistics, as a study found that the number of school district students who are overweight is at 36 percent, down from a peak of 38 percent a decade ago.
Researchers in the Montreal study stressed that further research is necessary to determine whether television is the direct cause of the increased waist lines, but according to Dr. Pagani, "The bottom line is that watching too much television is not good."
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