TV in the Bedroom? Fat Kid!

You couldn't tell it by my skinny, scrawny kid but a new study is finding that TVs in bedrooms may cause kids to gain a pound a year, and contribute to -- or cause -- childhood obesity.

According to, the study has found that having a bedroom television was a significant predictor of adolescent weight gain.

Makes sense, I suppose.  If the kid's in the house watching TV, he most likely isn't going to ditch it to run around or play ball.  At least, I wouldn't.

Growing up, no kid I knew had a TV in his bedroom.  In fact, we had friends who never even had a TV in their house.  I'll never forget their joy when they got to see "The Wizard of Oz" at our house for the first time.

But today seems like every kid has one.  And an XBox and an iPod and . . .you get the idea.  

“This study suggests that removing bedroom TVs is an important step in our nation’s fight against child obesity. We found that adolescents with a TV in their bedroom gained about 1 extra pound a year, compared to those without one, even after accounting for hours of TV watched each day and socioeconomic factors,” quotes study first author Diane Gilbert-Diamond, assistant professor of Community and Family Medicine at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth and a member of the Norris Cotton Cancer Center. “Because bedroom televisions are really common in the U.S. (over half of adolescents have one), this obesity risk factor accounts for over 15 million pounds of excess weight gain per year among U.S. adolescents.”

“We know that childhood obesity can result from a number of contributing factors,” said Layla Esposito, Ph.D., a program director in the Child Development and Behavior Branch of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, which co-funded the study. “Research that identifies simple and concrete actions that parents can take to help reduce the risk of excessive weight gain in their children, such as removing the television from the bedroom, is significant.”
Gilbert-Diamond points out at the Web site that, unlike other parenting strategies that require persistent effort and vigilance, parents can make a difference by simply keeping televisions out of their children’s bedrooms. “Get rid of the TV while children are still in elementary school,” says James Sargent, a pediatrician and collaborator on the study. “You will all go through a couple of weeks of complaining and misery, and then everyone will forget that it was there in the first place.”
I admit we parents -- or maybe I should just say, I -- have used TV as a distraction, as a way to keep my son busy while I'm working or reading or not doing anything, just not playing with or having a discussion with him for five minutes.
And, to his credit, he can take it or leave it, unlike a friend who's not allowed to watch during the week and can't wait to come over here and glue himself to the television until he leaves.  But Phillip has learned the same trick his dad taught me -- fall asleep with the TV.
When we had several power outages a couple of years ago that lasted for days, we got used to sleeping without TV and I'm ashamed to say it was some of the best sleep of my life.  


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