Standing in front of the television would be one of the most risky sedentary behaviors, according to an Australian study. Indeed, it would promote obesity in children.
Worldwide, nearly 43 million children under 5 years old are overweight or obese, according to figures from the World Health Organization (WHO). In an attempt to eradicate this scourge, researchers are trying to identify the risk factors. According to a new study by researchers at South Australia University (Australia), the mere of sitting in front of the television would cause obesity in young kids. In fact, the researchers found that watching television for a long period of time would increase the risk of suffering from childhood obesity more than playing video games, for example.
For this study, published in the Obesity Research & Clinical Practice at the end of 2018, scientists evaluated the sedentary behaviors of 234 Australian children aged 10 to 13 years. Of these, 130 had a healthy weight, while 104 were considered obese. The Australian university team examined the impact of different so-called “sitting” behaviors, such as watching television, playing video games or using a computer, sitting down to eat or traveling by car.
In the end, young people spent more than 50% of their day sitting (not counting sleep). On average, they watched television 2.5 to 3 hours a day. And this activity has been shown to be the most inactive behavior associated with obesity in both boys and girls.
“It’s not surprising that the more inactive a child is, the more likely they are to become overweight,” says Dr. Margarita Tsiros in a statement, “but not all sedentary behaviors are equal when it comes to the weight of children. This research shows that sitting time is less important than what they do when they sit. For example, some types of activity are more strongly associated with body fat in children than others, and time spent watching television seems to be the worst off.”
However, different trends appear to be emerging between boys and girls. Boys tend to watch more television, 37 minutes a day, but they also spent more time playing video games. “Boys who sit for more than 30 minutes can also have more fat, so it’s important to watch the time spent sitting down in front of the screen to make sure they have regular breaks,” says the doctor.
The researchers point out that an overweight child is at increased risk of developing serious health problems, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure or cholesterol. They may also face social and self-esteem issues, as well as difficulty doing certain activities. “An overweight child is more likely to become an overweight adult. It is therefore essential to fight against unhealthy behaviors in childhood,” concludes Margarita Tsiros.