Submitted to: International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/25/2007
Publication Date: 9/25/2007
Citation: Mendoza, J.A., Zimmerman, F.J., Christatkis, D.A. 2007. Television viewing, computer use, obesity, and adiposity in US preschool children. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity [serial online]. 4:44. Available: http://www.ijbnpa.org/content/pdf/1479-5868-4-44.pdf. Interpretive Summary: A study at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Children's Nutrition Research Center in Houston, Texas, has shown that many preschoolers exceed the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendations that the children spend no more than two hours per day watching television and using the computer. The researchers used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey that surveyed a diverse group of more than 1,800 preschoolers, ages 2-5, concerning their media consumption or screen time, measured as TV/video viewing or computer use. The researchers compared children watching more than two hours of TV/videos to those watching two hours or less, and computer users to nonusers, relative to various selected health outcomes related to obesity. Results showed that 30.8% of the preschoolers studied exceeded the AAP guidelines with TV viewing time alone, not including computer time. Those children who surpassed the AAP recommendations on TV/video viewing were more likely to be overweight or at risk for being overweight.
Technical Abstract: There is limited evidence in preschool children linking media use, such as television/video viewing and computer use, to obesity and adiposity. We tested three hypotheses in preschool children: 1) that watching > 2 hours of TV/videos daily is associated with obesity and adiposity, 2) that computer use is associated with obesity and adiposity, and 3) that > 2 hours of media use daily is associated with obesity and adiposity. We conducted a cross-sectional study using nationally representative data on children, aged 2–5 years from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1999–2002. Our main outcome measures were 1) weight status: normal versus overweight or at risk for overweight, and 2) adiposity: the sum of subscapular and triceps skinfolds (mm). Our main exposures were TV/video viewing (</= 2 or > 2 hours/day), computer use (users versus non-users), and media use (</= 2 or > 2 hours/day). We used multivariate Poisson and linear regression analyses, adjusting for demographic covariates, to test the independent association between TV/video viewing, computer use, or overall media use and a child's weight status or adiposity. Watching > 2 hours/day of TV/videos was associated with being overweight or at risk for overweight (Prevalence ratio = 1.34, 95% CI [1.07, 1.66]; n =1340) and with higher skinfold thicknesses (ß = 1.08, 95% CI [0.19, 1.96]; n = 1337). Computer use > 0 hours/day was associated with higher skinfold thicknesses (ß = 0.56, 95% CI [0.04, 1.07]; n = 1339). Media use had borderline significance with higher skinfold thicknesses (ß = 0.85, 95% CI [-0.04, 1.75], P=0.06; n = 1334). Watching > 2 hours/day of TV/videos in US preschool-age children was associated with a higher risk of being overweight or at risk for overweight and higher adiposity–findings in support of national guidelines to limit preschool children's media use. Computer use was also related to higher adiposity in preschool children, but not weight status. Intervention studies to limit preschool children's media use are warranted.