Submitted to: Preventing Chronic Disease
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 19, 2005
Publication Date: March 15, 2006
Citation: Bowman, S.A. 2006. Television-viewing characteristics of adults: Correlations to eating practices and overweight and health status. Preventing Chronic Disease. 3(2):1-11. Interpretive Summary: Obesity affects health and increases medical cost. Annual, obesity-attributable expenditure was estimated to be about $75 million dollars in 2003. Poor diet and low physical activity levels are some of the major factors that result in weight gain. The reasons for physical inactivity depend on how people choose to spend their leisure time. Television watching is a popular leisure time activity promoting a sedentary behavior. Prolonged television watching has been associated with weight gain and overweight. This study compared television-viewing habits of 9,157 adults in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals conducted in 1994-1996. Watching more than two hours of television was associated with having a high BMI and being overweight or obese in both males and females. In general, across all socio-economic and demographic groups analyzed, a significantly high percentage of adults who watched more than two hours of television were overweight as compared with those who watched less than an hour of television. The adults who watched more than two hours of television consumed significantly more energy, fat, added sugars than those who watched less than one hour of television. Individuals would benefit by reducing their television viewing time and instead use their leisure time to increase daily exercise and physical activity levels. The study findings are useful to health-intervention persons working with overweight adults.
Technical Abstract: This study examined the association between television viewing and weight status of a nationally representative sample of adults (N=9,157) in the United States. The study used self-reported data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's national household survey conducted from 1994 1996. Socio-economic and demographic characteristics, prevalence of health conditions, and macronutrients intakes in relation to television viewing and overweight status were analyzed. The BMI of males who watched more than 2 hours of television was 1.4 kg/m2 more than that of males who watched less than one hour of television. The difference in the BMI of respective groups of women was 1.7 kg/ m2. Moreover, at least 10 percent more males and females who watched 2 hours of television were overweight than those who watched less than one hour of television. Other characteristics associated with watching more than two hours of television were: being 50 years of age and over (73%), having high school level or lower education (66%), living in households with income below 131 percent of poverty (66%), or being unemployed (70%). As compared with adults who watched less than one hour of television, adults who watched between one and two hours of television consumed 65 calories more and those who watched more than two hours television consumed 137 calories more. The time spent watching television reduces time available for physical activity. Eating while watching television may increase energy intakes. Interventions aimed at obesity prevention or treatment should emphasize reducing time spent viewing television or doing similar sedentary activities.