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Children with TVs in their bedroom far more likely to be overweight, study finds

Researchers examined the lifestyles of over 12,000 children in the UK.

A NEW STUDY has found that children who have televisions in their bedroom are more likely to be overweight or obese.

Researchers at University College London studied the development of 12,556 children, and found that over half had a TV in their bedroom by the time they are seven years old.

The team found that, by age 11, boys were 20% more likely to be overweight if they had a TV in their room, while girls were 30% more likely to be overweight.

Report author Anja Heilmann said: “Childhood obesity in the UK is a major public health problem. Our study shows a clear link between having a TV in the bedroom as a young child and being overweight a few years later”.

Childhood obesity is an issue in Ireland, also, with estimates predicting that Ireland is set to be Europe’s fattest nation by 2030.

Other factors that could contribute to a child being overweight were taken into account when compiling this data, including household income, how much sleep they got and how physically active they were.

Factoring in issues around the family’s diet, also, the researchers said that having a TV in the bedroom had a clear link to children who were overweight.

Girls at age 11 tended to enjoy less exercise, researchers said, which could be a factor behind more of them were likely to be overweight if they had a television in their room.

“The causes of obesity are complex and multiple,” Heilmann said.

Childhood obesity prevention strategies should consider TVs in children’s bedrooms as a risk factor for obesity.

Commenting on the study, health promotion officer at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Russell Viner said that the “findings must be taken very seriously”.

He said: “We know that high levels of screen time expose children to increased risks of being overweight on a number of fronts, creating a damaging combination of a more sedentary lifestyle, increased exposure to junk food advertising, disruption to sleep and poorer ability to regulate eating habits when watching TV.”

Read: ‘It’s not an easy way out’: Is surgery the way to help solve Ireland’s obesity crisis?

Read: Children are spending longer in front of a screen and it’s putting their health at risk

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