A new study confirms that kids who watch a lot of television tend to be heavier than kids who do not, but it fails to settle the question: Which came first, the Simpsons or the Twinkies?
Kids who spent more than four hours daily in front of the tube were significantly heavier than children who watched fewer than two hours daily, according to researchers led by Ross Andersen of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.Yet the study could not say whether watching television results in children getting fatter or being fatter induces children to watch more television, said an editorial accompanying the study in Wednesday's edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Researchers looked at federal data on 4,063 U.S. children who were examined from 1988 to 1994 and found that 26 percent averaged more than four hours of TV viewing daily.
Non-Hispanic black children had the highest rate of watching; Forty-two percent watched four or more hours daily, the researchers said.
Levels of vigorous activity were lowest among non-Hispanic black children, Mexican-American girls and girls in general, the researchers found.
"Many U.S. children watch a great deal of television and are inadequately vigorously active," the study concluded.
The study is the fourth to find a link between how much television U.S. children watch and how fat they are, the editorial said.