Limit time watching TV to keep trim

LONDON: Restricting the amount of television children are allowed to watch each day could help reduce obesity among youngsters, health experts have reported.

Television influences not only what children eat but how much and where they eat. It is also associated with a decrease in physical activity, an underlying cause of the worldwide obesity epidemic.

William Dietz, director of the division of nutrition and physical activity at the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told an obesity conference in London that children need alternatives to watching television to raise their levels of physical activity and to reduce how much they eat.

"There is now an accumulating body of evidence that suggests that the impact of reduced television viewing on food intake may be greater than the impact on activity," he said.

Dietz cited a California study which found as much as 25 per cent of children's food intake occurs while they are watching television, so limiting television time alone may cut their chances to overeat.

"We showed a linear relationship of television viewing to the prevalence of obesity," he added.

In the United States the number of hours children watch television jumped from about two hours per day in 1969 to more than five in 1990 for many youngsters.

Meanwhile, obesity among adolescents had trebled and doubled in younger children between 1980-1994. Reuters