Watching TV As A Kid Linked To High Blood Pressure And Obesity As An Adult: Study
The amount of time that young people spend watching screens — instead of physical activity like sports, hikes or gardening — could be linked to health issues in adulthood, according to a new study.
Children and teenagers who spent more time watching television had less efficient oxygen use during exercise, higher blood pressure, and higher rates of obesity in mid-adulthood, even when accounting for sex, childhood body mass index and the family’s economic situation, the study published in Pediatrics says.
The researchers started tracking hundreds of children in New Zealand in 1973 and followed them until they turned 45 years old.
The study can’t prove that watching TV caused those health effects, says study author Dr. Bob Hancox. But there are possible reasons the two could be linked, he says. Kids who have more screen time might do less physical activity, because of the sedentary activity of sitting down and watching TV. They may also have poorer eating habits, due to seeing ads for junk foods, Hancox says.
“If you’re sitting watching TV, you’re not being active and therefore that increases your risk of being overweight and being less fit,” Hancox says.
The study started in the 1970s, when there were fewer screen time options than today. But experts say the findings still offer important information for how parents can guide screen time usage today.
“This really highlights the importance of critical development years. To emphasize – from a structural societal level, systems level, the need to set up programs, schooling, and support to allow parents to be successful in helping their children be more physically active,” says Dr. Veronica Johnson, an assistant professor of internal medicine and pediatrics focusing on obesity medicine at Northwestern Medicine.MORE: Children with obesity should get proactive treatment: American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines
Parents should pay close attention to children’s screen time, experts say. The American Academy of Pediatrics said that parents should limit unnecessary screen time, view screens with their child, and focus on content and communication around screen time to help children’s emotional, social, brain and identity development.
“Screen time is inevitable,” says Johnson. “It’s important to set some guidelines or expectations for your children as far as when you should be using the screens and how the screens should be utilized.”
Parents can also focus on the factors associated with screen time that could lead to problems later on, like diet and physical activity. The CDC recommends drinking water with fruit instead of sugary drinks, slicing up vegetables to use as quick snacks, and flavoring your meals with lemon juice, herbs, or no-salt spice blends instead of salt. The USDA’s MyPlate has recommendations for every age and activity level.
“Finding a meal plan that works for the individual is very personalized,” says Dr. Amanda Velazquez, director of obesity medicine at Cedars-Sinai. The best diet plan is the one that fits in with someone’s schedule, cultural preferences, and eating patterns — because that’s what they’ll be able to stick to, she says.
Families can increase their level of physical activity by spending time in parks, experts say, or incorporating activity into daily tasks. “Instead of driving, a parent can walk with their child to school or commute to work by foot. Some communities have sidewalks,” says Dr. Louis Aronne, director of the Center of Weight Management and Metabolic Clinical Research at Weill Cornell Medicine. “Anything besides sitting on the couch or sitting in a room watching a screen.”MORE: As weight loss drugs’ popularity grows, teens turn to Wegovy for help
With screens involved in all parts of our lives, screen time does not always have to be a bad thing for children, experts say. Developmentally appropriate educational programs, talking to family over video chat and exercise videos have benefits for families.
“Watching something with high-quality educational content that is engaging or FaceTiming with grandparents is going to have a different level of engagement and stimulation versus passively watching television shows in the background,” says Velazquez.
Screens have also evolved over time, from having two channels that did not have 24-hour programming to now we have many different screens at all times of the day, Hancox says. “It’s the dose that makes a difference. The dose of TV and screen time we’re having at the moment, from a physical health and probably mental health point of view is clearly a bad thing when we’re doing too much.”
Barrington Hwang, M.D., is a child and adolescent psychiatry fellow at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, and a member of the ABC News Medical Unit.
Subtitles: Why Children Should Be Watching TV With Them On The Screen
Sharon Black, a lecturer in Interpreting (with Spanish) at the University of East Anglia, has shared more about why children should watch TV with subtitles.
What did Sharon say?
Sharon writes: It can help them boost their reading skills and learn other languages, as well as providing more inclusive access for children with disabilities or those who speak a minority language. This small change – turning on subtitles – can make a big difference.
Research shows that turning on subtitles in the same language as the TV show or film can indeed improve children’s reading skills. Watching video content with same language subtitles, both when used as a teaching tool and for entertainment outside the classroom, can improve children’s decoding skills – their ability to use their existing knowledge of letters and sounds to correctly pronounce words.
It can also help them improve their vocabulary, and boost their comprehension skills and reading fluency.
Subtitles have also been shown to improve the literacy skills of children who are economically disadvantaged, those who are struggling with reading, and minority language speakers learning the official language of the country in which they live and receive schooling.
The benefits of subtitles for children have been raised recently by the Turn on the Subtitles (TOTS) campaign, which calls for broadcasters and streamers to turn on the subtitles by default for viewers aged six to 10.
It is also seeking to raise awareness among parents of the considerable benefits that subtitles can bring in improving children’s reading skills.
The TOTS campaign is backed by a panel of leading experts. It is supported by well-known figures such as children’s author Cressida Cowell and TV presenter Floella Benjamin, who signed a letter urging broadcasters and video-on-demand providers to turn on the subtitles for young viewers.
Same language subtitles do not just bring benefits for children’s literacy skills. While the efforts of the TOTS campaign are laudable, it is important to highlight that subtitles can do even more than improving children’s reading skills. They also fulfil the fundamental function of providing access to viewers who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Subtitles may also bring educational benefits for young viewers with other disabilities, such as autism and dyslexia.
Learning other languages
Watching foreign language films and television programmes with subtitles in their first language is a motivating way to support children as they begin learning other languages.
Research shows that children can learn vocabulary and improve their proficiency in other languages incidentally, just by watching subtitled foreign language films and television programmes.
Subtitles can also help them learn another language intentionally, as part of a course of study.
Watching subtitled foreign language films, television programmes and videos also has the key potential to improve children’s intercultural awareness.
Internationally sourced programmes on British television for children are largely drawn from the US and research shows that children’s viewing is dominated by American content.
As a result, children in the UK do not have much access to content produced in non-anglophone countries, at least not on their television screens.
Giving children greater access to high-quality, educational media content in other languages would give them opportunities to learn about the lives of children in other cultures and to identify with children who speak languages other than theirs.
Boosting children’s exposure to subtitled foreign language films and television programmes would be a simple, inexpensive way to promote their learning of other languages.
Encouraging children to learn other languages is of crucial importance in the UK at the moment, given the decline in language learning over the past 20 years.
If broadcasters and VOD providers turned on the subtitles by default and added more subtitled foreign language films and television programmes for children to their schedules and online provision, children would also benefit more from subtitles on their screens at home.
At school, subtitled videos could be put to more use by teachers and providers of educational media content as a motivating, engaging aid to improving literacy and language learning.
Children around the globe are spending more time in front of screens and using more multimedia resources than ever. As a result, now is the perfect moment to raise awareness of the educational benefits of subtitles.This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.
Watching Television As Children Linked To High Blood Pressure And Obesity As Adults, Claims Study
Experts said that parents should monitor their children’s screen usage closely.
A new study has said that the amount of time children spend watching screens instead of engaging in physical activities like sports, hiking, or gardening could be connected to health issues in adulthood. The research, which followed hundreds of children in New Zealand from 1973 until they reached the age of 45, found that those who spent more time watching television experienced less efficient oxygen use during exercise, higher blood pressure, and increased rates of obesity in mid-adulthood. Even after considering factors like sex, childhood body mass index, and family economic status, these health effects were still evident.
However, the study’s author, Dr Bob Hancox, clarifies that the research cannot definitively prove that watching TV directly caused these health issues. Nonetheless, there are plausible reasons for the correlation between screen time and health problems, he added. For instance, children with more screen time may be less physically active due to the sedentary nature of watching TV. Additionally, exposure to advertisements for unhealthy foods during screen time might lead to poorer eating habits.
“If you’re sitting watching TV, you’re not being active and therefore that increases your risk of being overweight and being less fit,” Dr Hancox was quoted as saying by CBS News.
The study’s relevance extends to today’s context, even though screen time options were more limited in the 1970s. Experts believe the findings offer crucial guidance for parents in managing screen time for their children.
“This really highlights the importance of critical development years. To emphasise – from a structural societal level, systems level, the need to set up programs, schooling, and support to allow parents to be successful in helping their children be more physically active,” Dr Veronica Johnson, an assistant professor specialising in obesity medicine, told the outlet.
Reflecting on the study, experts in the US said that parents should monitor their children’s screen usage closely. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting unnecessary screen time, viewing screens together with children, and focusing on content and communication around screen time to support emotional, social, brain, and identity development.
“Screen time is inevitable. It’s important to set some guidelines or expectations for your children as far as when you should be using the screens and how the screens should be utilised,” said Dr Johnson.
Experts suggest paying attention to factors associated with screen time that could lead to future problems, such as diet and physical activity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests healthier alternatives like drinking water with fruit instead of sugary drinks, snacking on sliced vegetables, and using lemon juice, herbs, or no-salt spice blends to flavour meals instead of salt.Increasing physical activity can be achieved by spending time in parks or incorporating activity into daily routines. Rather than driving, parents can walk with their children to school or commute to work on foot, where sidewalks are available. While screens are ubiquitous in modern life, experts argue that screen time does not have to be inherently harmful for children. Developmentally appropriate educational programs, video chatting with family, and exercise videos can have positive benefits for families. Dr Amanda Velazquez, director of obesity medicine at Cedars-Sinai, emphasizes that finding a personalized meal plan that fits an individual’s schedule, cultural preferences, and eating habits is crucial for long-term success in maintaining a healthy diet. Featured Video Of The Day “Nobody In Manipur Is Blaming PM For Conflict”: Himanta Sarma Exclusive