TV Makes Toddlers Fat, But Who Really Cares?

toddler tvIf you've managed to get through the day without feeling guilty about anything please allow me to introduce this news: Apparently toddlers who watch too much television grow up to have larger waistlines. YES, researchers went there. Thank you, researchers!

In case you wanted to open this gnarly bag of parent-blaming worms: A study measured how much television a group of four-year-olds watched and then measured those kids' waistlines when they were ten years old. Kids who'd watched 18 hours of TV a week were 7.6 millimeters bigger around the waist than kids who'd watched just 14.8 hours. Oh, and the little TV fanatics also couldn't jump as far as their TV-deprived peers.


Okay, let's put this in perspective: 7.6 millimeters is equal to 0.29 inches. I mean, it's not nothing. It's a quarter of a inch. But it's not like the kids who watched more TV all grew up to be obese.

There does seem to be a connection between watching television as a toddler and your physical fitness later on. I think it's pretty safe to say that once you get started with certain TV habits it's hard to cut back. And a kid who watches more television is a kid who is spending less time actively playing. I don't think it's healthy for toddlers to watch very much television at all. Less is definitely more.

But here's something interesting the researchers say: "Watching more television not only displaces other forms of educational and active leisurely pursuits but also places them at risk of learning inaccurate information about proper eating." In other words, if your kid watches a lot of TV they're probably taking in a lot of commercials for crap food. Unless of course your kid is mostly watching public television or a video, which have no commercials.

And this, my friends, is how I sometimes justified letting my toddler watch TV every once in a while when I needed a moment to work, clean, or have a moment alone with my thoughts. I figured as long as it was public television at least it was vaguely educational and at least he wasn't watching a bunch of commercials. But here's the worst part: I'm pretty sure I never even kept track of how many hours of television my son watched.

Do you keep track of how many hours of television your toddler or preschooler watches?

Image via Joelk75/Flickr


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