A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association has identified a child’s weight is influenced by whether there is a television in their bedroom.The results found kids who were without TVs in their rooms had significantly smaller waist circumferences and a reduced chance of weight challenges.Conducted by the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth in New Hampshire, over 3,000 children between the ages of 10 and 14, were surveyed over a four-year period. The scientists discovered a pattern of weight gain (average 0.4kg per year) when studying children with televisions in their bedroom.
The study was based on reports from parents as they monitored their children’s height and weight over the four year course. The children’s BMI was also calculated, according to age and sex-standardized BMI scores using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention numbers. The following sample questions were asked to each child:
- Do you have a TV in your bedroom?
- On school days, how many hours a day do you usually watch TV?
- On school days, how many hours a day to you usually spend playing video or computer games?
- How many movies to you watch on TV in a week?
The trials concluded children without televisions in their bedrooms weight was reduced compared to their peers with TV sets. Previous research in 2011 found one in five UK children have a TV in their room, although this figure might have risen, and the study highlights the health benefits of a screen-free sleeping area. Having a room without the luxury of a television on demand means one may be more inclined to go outside to play, keep active and develop stronger social skills, even it means making the 12 step trip downstairs to watch one’s favourite show with family.
Researchers also say there may be a trend between eating more calorie-dense food and exposure to higher amounts of television due to suggestive advertising. There may also be a likelihood those without TVs in their bedroom had improved and stronger sleeping patterns without the temptation of late night viewing, which helps regulate a healthy lifestyle. A concluding statement from the study said: “Removing bedroom televisions may be an important step to eliminate child weight challenges. The findings are also a starting point into the research of smartphones and tablets and their association with health.”
Children used to the lifestyle of going without a TV in their room whilst growing up maybe unwilling to repeat the actions in adulthood. There is always an change for a parent seeking a health change. Eliminating the TV may be likely to improve many health-related considerations such as being beneficial to sleep patterns. The philosophy of going to bed when fatigued is thrown out the window with a television in the bedroom, being in bed for an extended period of time before sleep may lead to having to restless leg syndrome and reduce comfort. Reflecting on the day or what was learnt is more productive than a late night movie. All electrical appliances attract dust, taking the TV out of the bedroom may serve a hygienic purpose to support a healthy nights rest whilst cutting down on feather duster time.
The health benefits of taking the television out of the bedroom may also apply to tablets, computers and mobiles. Whilst watching a film in bed is notorious blissful, aim to reduce on bedroom-television habits to help increase health and setting an example to children.
What other changes may be made to daily routines which might have health benefits?