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10 Ways TV Has Changed American Culture


6
Increases Childhood Obesity
There is a strong correlation between the number of hours our kids spend in front of the boob tube and their weight. Donna Day/Stone/Getty Images
There is a strong correlation between the number of hours our kids spend in front of the boob tube and their weight. Donna Day/Stone/Getty Images

Childhood obesity is a growing epidemic here in the U.S., and television bears its share of the blame for our children's ever-expanding waistlines.

There is a strong correlation between the number of hours our kids spend in front of the boob tube and their weight, and research shows that actively limiting a child's TV viewing time can help reduce his risk of obesity [source: Harvard School of Public Health ]. When you dive into the link between television and childhood obesity, you'll find a couple of factors at play: food marketing and sedentary time.

One major problem with excessive TV viewing is that kids are exposed to thousands of marketing messages each year, many of them for junk food. When kids are sitting in front of the TV, they tend to snack more, and when the ads they're seeing are for Pizza Rolls and Butterfingers, guess what snacks they reach for? Food marketing encourages kids to eat more and to make unhealthy choices when they do eat. You don't usually see an ad during "Yo Gabba Gabba" for broccoli, but how many ads do you see for sodas, sugary cereals, candy and fast food? American kids between ages 2 and 11 watch around 3.5 hours of television per day, and that sedentary time means they're burning fewer calories than kids who spend those hours engaged in active play [source: Hinckley]. When you replace time that kids would have spent playing tag in the park with time parked on their behinds -- with a bag of chips in hand -- they gain weight.


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