Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Kill Your Television: Save Your Kid

Another blow to those of us who had the television as a babysitter comes in the form of a new study from the  International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. You can officially blame your parents if you were a fat kid and you spent too much time sitting in front of the boob tube.

Controlling for many potentially confounding child and family variables, each hour per week of television watched at 29 months corresponded to a .361 cm decrease in SLJ, 95% CI between -.576 and -.145. A one hour increase in average weekly television exposure from 29 to 53 months was associated with a further .285 cm reduction in SLJ test performance, 95% CI between -.436 and -.134 cm and corresponded to a .047 cm increase in waistline circumference, 95% CI between .001 and .094 cm. Interpretation Watching television excessively in early childhood, may eventually compromise muscular fitness and waist circumference in children as they approach pubertal age. http://www.ijbnpa.org/content/9/1/87/abstract

The tl;dr version -- if you watched too much TV as a kid it's going to lead to you being a fatter kid by late elementary school.  

And if anyone doesn't believe it, I give you proof --

There is actually a full rack of ribs and mashed potatoes in that bucket.

Yours truly was a fat kid -- well into adolescence.  My mom and dad split before I was a year old and I lived with my dad.  I often slept at my grandparents' house because my dad worked the night shift, so when we got home, he'd be exhausted.  After making breakfast, he'd put on the television so he could take a nap.

Full disclosure -- I effing love(d) TV.  I can watch anything.  I still watch anything.  He made every effort to ensure that I watched something educational -- Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, Sesame Street, Reading Rainbow, The People's Court, etc. but apparently, that doesn't matter...

The American Academy of Pediatrics has been saying since 1999 that no child under two years old should be around a television.  In fact, those educational videos may be doing more harm than good according to an article from Time:
These products had the strongest detrimental effect on babies 8 to 16 months old, the age at which language skills are starting to form. "The more videos they watched, the fewer words they knew," says Christakis. "These babies scored about 10% lower on language skills than infants who had not watched these videos."  http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1650352,00.html 
Holy crap.  And that article is from 2007.

That's two years in a television vacuum unless you want to raise your own baby Buddha.  And, while I was tremendously cute, the amount you'll save on grocery bills alone is probably worth the sacrifice.

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