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How much time do your kids spend watching television?

Categories: Health

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New research suggests that the relation between young children, television and health is about as simple as many already believe: too much TV = fat kids.

To examine the association between hours spent watching TV and physical fitness, researchers from the University of Montreal assessed TV time, muscle strength and abdominal fat based on the standing long jump fitness test and waist circumference measurements in the second and fourth grade.

The study found that the average TV time was 8.8 hours a week, and that a child who watches 18 hours of television at 4.5 years of age will by the age of 10 have an extra 7.6 millimetres of waist because of his or her habits.

"Our findings suggest that early childhood television viewing may also undermine future explosive leg strength and contribute to the accumulation of abdominal fat," lead author Dr. Caroline Fitzpatrick and her co-authors concluded in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.

The findings echo those from October, when the American Academy of Pediatrics reaffirmed its policy of discouraging children from under the age of two from watching TV.

"Young children learn best from - and need - interaction with humans, not screen," said the academy's statement.

We want to hear from parents in the CBC Community: how much time do - or did - your young children spend watching television, or in front of a computer screen? What do you do to encourage physical activities and a healthy lifestyle? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

(This survey is not scientific. Results are based on readers' responses.)

Tags: Health, POV

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