It's not a shocker, but it is confirmation. A new study has found that kids and teens who spend more time in front of a screen each day are more likely to gain weight as they age.
Ask any parent how much "screen time" their kids get each day and they may have a hard time adding it all up. Health experts recommend a limit of two hours of screen time each day. And many families adhere to that — for television viewing. But they forget that all of that time spent texting, posting status updates on Facebook, and playing video games also counts as screen time. Add all of that time together, and many kids are spending upwards of five hours each day with their eyes glued to a screen. And new research confirms that these kids are much more likely to deal with weight issues in childhood and into their adult years.
For the study, researchers used data from a long-term study of kids aged 9 through 16 who completed biannual surveys about their height, weight, and how much time they spent watching TV and DVDs and playing computer and video games. The study showed that from one survey to the next, each one-hour increase in the kids' daily screen time exposure was linked to an increase of about 0.1 points on the body mass index (BMI) scale. That works out to an extra half a pound of weight for every extra hour of TV watched.
The study's authors noted that not all screen time is the same when it comes to weight gain. For instance, increases in DVD and television watching were tied to weight gain among girls, in particular. That's because, unlike with computer games and texting, when you watch TV your hands are free. And all of those commercial breaks give kids plenty of opportunity — and encouragement — to run to the kitchen for a snack.
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