Epstein et al1 have reported on a thoroughly performed study on the effects of television viewing and computer use on body mass indexes (BMIs) in young children. We believe this study provides important and useful data that will be very helpful in the battle against the growing childhood obesity epidemic. They monitored television watching and computer use as accurately as possible and concluded that reducing these activities resulted in decreased BMIs in young children, which may be related more to changes in energy intake than to changes in physical activity. They also concluded that the intervention (reduction of television watching and computer use) worked best for families of lower social economic status (SES). In the families of higher SES, there was no difference in BMI decrease between the intervention and control groups. The researchers not only reduced television watching and computer use in the intervention group, but they provided both groups with parenting tips, child-appropriate activities, and recipes. They reported a much larger decline in BMI in families of higher SES in both the intervention and control groups than in families of lower SES. We wonder if the educational intervention explains this larger decrease and if an association still exists between the reduction of television watching and computer use with a decrease in BMI in the higher SES group. The educational material might also be a very useful tool (for children from families with higher SES) to reduce BMI in young children.
Krul M, van Leeuwen Y. The Role of Television Viewing and Education in Decreased Body Mass Indexes in Children. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2008;162(9):899. doi:10.1001/archpedi.162.9.899-a