Watching TV the Right Way Can Cut Child Obesity
Norton, Cherry, The Independent (London, England)
CHILDREN WHO are taught at school how to watch television "intelligently" lose weight within six months and reduce the levels of fat in their bodies, scientists have shown.
New research, published in a special edition of The Journal of the American Medical Association focusing on obesity, shows that children who were given lessons on how to watch television reduced their viewing time voluntarily by four hours a week and ate fewer meals in front of it. Within six months their body mass index - weight in kilograms divided by height in metres squared - was lower than their peers and their triceps skin thickness, which indicates fat levels, was substantially reduced.
Most attempts to reduce childhood obesity that involve reducing fat and energy intake and increasing physical activity have failed to reduce children's body fatness, the researchers said. However, teaching children to watch television "intelligently" has been shown to be effective.
In Britain, parents and doctors have been alarmed at the numbers of children who are getting fatter. There has been widespread speculation that obesity levels among the young are increasing because of greater viewing of television and videos. Children spend more time watching television or playing computer games than anything except sleeping.
A recent report showed that in Britain, 15.8 per cent of two- year-olds were overweight with 6 per cent categorised as obese. By their fifth birthday, 18.7 per cent were overweight, with 7.2 per cent categorised obese.
Gaynor Bussell, of the British Dietetic Association, said teaching children at school how to watch television would be very beneficial in countering childhood obesity. …