Children who watch a lot of TV are at increased risk of high blood pressure and obesity in adulthood, according to a New Zealand study by the University of Otago. There was also an increased risk of less efficient oxygen consumption.
The study, published in the American Academy of Pediatrics, followed 997 New Zealand children from 1972 and 1973 until the age of 45. It looked at their television viewing habits throughout their lives and how it affected them in adulthood.
They found that those who spent more time watching TV as children had less effective oxygen consumption during exercise, higher blood pressure and an increased incidence of obesity in adulthood. In particular, TV time between the ages of 5 and 15 was associated with future problems, and men were more likely to be affected than women.
On the other hand, it is argued that it is not possible to establish that TV viewing is the direct cause, but that it nevertheless contributes to more sedentary lifestyles. There is also a risk of poorer eating habits because, for example, there are many advertisements for junk food.
– If you sit and watch TV, you are not active and therefore the risk of obesity and poor fitness increases, study author Dr. Bob Hancox told ABC News.
The study suggests that there is still a long-term association between TV viewing in youth and poorer health in adulthood, which they say should be particularly important to consider for children and their screen time today.
“This provides further evidence of the negative health effects of TV viewing throughout life. Measures to reduce the amount of time children and adolescents spend on screen-based activities could have significant and long-lasting health benefits”, the study reads.