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To examine the relationship between television watching, energy intake, physical activity, and obesity status in US boys and girls, aged 8 to 16 years.
We used a nationally representative cross-sectional survey with an in-person interview and a medical examination, which included measurements of height and weight, daily hours of television watching, weekly participation in physical activity, and a dietary interview. Between 1988 and 1994, the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey collected data on 4069 children. Mexican Americans and non-Hispanic blacks were oversampled to produce reliable estimates for these groups.
The prevalence of obesity is lowest among children watching 1 or fewer hours of television a day, and highest among those watching 4 or more hours of television a day. Girls engaged in less physical activity and consumed fewer joules per day than boys. A higher percentage of non-Hispanic white boys reported participating in physical activity 5 or more times per week than any other race/ethnic and sex group. Television watching was positively associated with obesity among girls, even after controlling for age, race/ethnicity, family income, weekly physical activity, and energy intake.
As the prevalence of overweight increases, the need to reduce sedentary behaviors and to promote a more active lifestyle becomes essential. Clinicians and public health interventionists should encourage active lifestyles to balance the energy intake of children.
Crespo CJ, Smit E, Troiano RP, Bartlett SJ, Macera CA, Andersen RE. Television Watching, Energy Intake, and Obesity in US Children: Results From the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1988-1994. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2001;155(3):360–365. doi:https://doi.org/10.1001/archpedi.155.3.360
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