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October 14, 1998

Television Watching and Fatness in Children

Author Affiliations

Margaret A.WinkerMD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthorPhil B.FontanarosaMD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 1998;280(14):1230-1232. doi:10-1001/pubs.JAMA-ISSN-0098-7484-280-14-jbk1014

To the Editor.—Dr Andersen and colleagues1 found a positive association between time spent watching television and fatness, but BMI and sum of trunk skinfolds were similar in those who were highly active and those who were relatively inactive. We have contrasting data from a cohort of prepubertal 8- to 13-year-olds in Britain (including preterm children who were recruited at birth to a randomized trial of nutrient-enriched formula between 1982 and 1985, plus term age-matched controls from the same area included in the study at age 8 through 13 years). We found a stronger relationship between fatness and activity level than between fatness and television watching. Activity level in relation to peers was reported by the parent or guardian and took 1 of 3 levels: less than, the same as, or more than peers. Television watching was reported by the subjects as the average hours per day watched on a school night.2 Fat mass was determined by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry and was adjusted for lean body size and age. Results were similar for boys and girls, preterm children, and controls and are presented together (Table).

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