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Watching TV is linked to bad eating habits

by EMILY BEZERRA Staff Writer

Two major causes of being overweight are poor eating habits and lack of exercise. Developing healthier eating habits could be as simple as watching less television. A national survey was conducted in 2009-2010 among 12,000 students in grades five through 10. The researchers asked the students how much TV they watch, how much they snack while they watch, how often they eat fruits and vegetables, how often they eat candy and drank soda, and how often they skip breakfast. The results revealed a variety of differences among boys and girls of different ages. For example, girls watched slightly less TV than boys. Also, older children ate more fast-food. Eating fruits and vegetables daily occurred more among young students than teenagers. The study exhibits that watching TV encourages children to eat unhealthy food, due to all the commercials promoting junk food. Children who watch more than 21 hours of TV a week are more tempted by food commercials. The group of surveyed kids who watched the most TV significantly had higher body masses than the others. The poor dietary decisions associated with watching too much TV include skipping breakfast, consuming much candy and soda, not consuming enough fruits and vegetables, and eating at a fast food restaurant at least once a week. “I honestly don’t watch that much TV. But when I do, I usually have a bag of chips and I usually eat the whole thing with my liter of soda,” says freshman Tina Volkmann. Volkmann represents the poor dietary habits that can develop by watching TV, even if you do not watch that much. Unfortunately, she is not the only one who portrays these habits. “I enjoy watching TV when I get home from dance and I’m really tired. The days I don’t have dance, all I do is watch TV and eat junk food. Sometimes I have candy too. It’s my leisure time,” says freshman Melanie Conlon. Staff scientists Leah Lipsky and Ronal Iannotti of Eunice Kennedy Shrive National Institute of Child Health and Human Development report that for every hour of television children watch, they are 8% less likely to eat fruit every day, 18% more likely to eat candy, and 16% more likely to eat fast food. While avoiding the television is nearly impossible, it is suggested that parents limit the amount of time their children spend watching TV. It is also a good idea to provide children with healthy snacks while they watch TV. Eating habits develop at young ages. Next time you see a little one watching TV, sneak a bowl of fruit into their lap.

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