TV, computer games, school lunches indicators of childhood obesity

February 17, 2011

Just in case you had any lingering doubts, a study published in the December 2010 issue of the American Heart Journal confirms that television watching and computer games, along with school lunches, are contributing to obesity among children.

Just in case you had any lingering doubts, a study published in the December 2010 issue of the American Heart Journal confirms that television watching and computer games, along with school lunches, are contributing to obesity among children.

The University of Michigan study assessed which health habits contributed to childhood obesity in 1,003 sixth-graders from 2004 to 2009. Health behaviors and physiological markers were compared in obese and nonobese children and independent predictors were identified.

Obese students had elevated cardiovascular risk markers including higher levels of total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, and recovery heart rates after a three-minute step test. They consumed more regular soda and school lunches, watched 2 or more hours of television per day, and were less physically active. Independent predictors of obesity were watching television, or playing computer games (odds ratio [OR], 1.19), and eating school lunches (OR, 1.29). Moderate exercise was identified as protective (OR, 0.89).

"It is useful to appreciate that students in both groups (obese and nonobese) reported unhealthy behaviors. Thus, it is clear that opportunities to improve health abound for the majority of our students, not just the 15% who are already obese," the authors write.

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