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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Jago, Russell
item Baranowski, Thomas
item Baranowski, Janice
item Thompson, Deborah
item Greaves, K

Submitted to: International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/22/2005
Publication Date: 6/1/2005
Citation: Jago, R., Baranowski, T., Baranowski, J., Thompson, D.I., Greaves, K.A. 2005. BMI from 3-6 y of age is predicted by TV viewing and physical activity, not diet. International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders. 29(6):557-564.

Interpretive Summary: In this study we examined the behaviors (diet, physical activity, sedentary behavior and TV patterns) of a tri-ethnic cohort of 3 to 4 year old children who were followed for three years and related behaviors to BMI in each study year and the end of the study when the children were 6 to 7 years of age. We found that TV viewing and physical activity were related to BMI, but the pattern of association was not consistent across study years. Physical activity was negatively associated with BMI with this relationship becoming stronger as the children aged. Similarly, TV viewing was not associated with BMI at the start of the study but was positively associated with BMI at the end of the third study year (when participants were 6 to 7 years). Dietary factors were not associated with BMI. The results of this study show that TV viewing and physical activity predict BMI at 6 to 7 years of age and therefore developing strategies to reduce TV viewing and increase physical activity among young children may help curb the obesity epidemic.

Technical Abstract: The objective of the study was to investigate whether, diet, physical activity, sedentary behavior or television (TV) viewing predicted body mass index (BMI) among 3-7 y old children. A triethnic cohort of 3-4 y old children was followed for 3 y from 1986 to 1989. BMI was assessed at the beginning and end of each measurement year. Heart rate monitoring and observation were used to assess physical activity. Diet (calories, % calories from fat and carbohydrate), sedentary behavior and TV viewing were assessed by direct observation in each year. A repeated measures regression analysis with year as a factor and BMI at the end of each year as dependent variables was run. Nonsignificant variables were removed in a stepwise backward deletion process and significant interactions graphed. Results show that the interactions between minutes of TV viewing per hour and study year and minutes of physical activity per hour and study year were significant (P<0.05). There were also significant main effects for TV viewing, physical activity and BMI from the beginning of the study. The model accounted for 65% of the variance in BMI across the three study years. Plotting the significant interactions demonstrated that physical activity was positively associated with BMI in year 1, and negatively associated in years 2 and 3 with a stronger negative relationship in year 3 than 2. TV viewing became positively associated with BMI during the third study year. In conclusion, physical activity and TV viewing were the only significant predictors (other than baseline BMI) of BMI among a triethnic cohort of 3 to 4 y old children followed for 3 y with both physical activity (negatively associated) and TV viewing (positively associated) becoming stronger predictors as the children aged. It appears that 6 or 7 y is a critical age when TV viewing and physical activity may affect BMI. Therefore, focusing on reducing time spent watching television and increasing time spent in physical activity may be successful means of preventing obesity among this age group.

Last Modified: 10/20/2017
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