Is Television Causing Child Obesity?

by Elizabeth Radisson - Date: 2007-01-03 - Word Count: 524 Share This!

Can we actually say that television is responsible for child obesity? Can we actually verify that it is causing children to become overweight and obese? While this assertion would be difficult to substantiate, the responsibility that television does contribute to childhood obesity should be examined.

Technology has changed our world a great deal over the past 20 years or so. Kids used to have to play outside all day in the sun, running, climbing and being active. Today, virtual play through technology is replacing kids' physical real play.

The television has taken over as the most important past time for youth and has revolutionized our lifestyles as our eyes are glued to it more and more. As we have allowed the television to overpower us, our youth have been introduced to and have adopted a sedentary television viewing lifestyle. Health problems have developed and worsened as a result, leading to the question if television has caused or contributed to child obesity.

Obesity is considered a form of malnutrition in which food energy is stored as fat due to being unused. The incidence of child obesity has tripled since a study done in 1997 and now exceeds the incidence of adult obesity. Child obesity is bred within the home and the television is a major contributor to it.

There is more than one factor involved in child obesity, but minimal physical activity that causes the body to store excess energy as fat is the major factor. Children have become television-watching couch potatoes, sitting for hours at-a-time completely inactive.

Sitting, staring and snacking are the only activities involved in watching television as one's attention is focused on the programming. This can be considered a cause of child obesity. Over-eating is often a function of television viewing, and coupled with inactivity can be a destructive and unhealthy past time, especially for children.

The energy we consume from food needs to be used up by the body on a daily basis through physical exertion. An overweight child devoting a major portion of time to watching television is at risk to becoming obese. Television is certainly a contributor to that obesity.

Other factors do also contribute to child obesity, but television is a major one, and one that originates in the home. Obesity of children can be controlled and prevented and arranging strict guidelines around television viewing is an important step in that.

Overweight and obese children need to be encouraged to do more physical activity such as walking and playing and limit their television time. Children may also need structured physical activity times to divert them away from television.

Involvement in sporting activities requiring the use of high levels of energy may be a good choice. Explanation to the child and family involved that the television is a major contributor to child obesity is important. It is also important to address and recognize obesity as a health problem and not that of an appearance problem.

Encouraging families to become less involved with television and more physically active can help to prevent and reduce child obesity. It is hard to say that television actually causes obesity, but we must recognize its dominant role in the development of child obesity.

Related Tags: weight loss, obesity, exercise, healthy, get in shape, slim, trim

About the Author: Elizabeth Radisson is the editor of, where you'll find more articles on weight loss and obesity, as well as fitness and exercise.

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