Prevalence of obesity among youth has increased and that can be attributed- amongst other factors- to increased lack of physical activity and sedentary behaviours, to which technological advances have also contributed: systematic reviews have shown that children watch on average 2-2.5 hours of television per day. As sedentary behaviours are associated with obesity which is a risk factor for outcomes such as heart disease and diabetes, reducing such behaviours can be be instrumental in prevention and treatment of youth obesity. In Brazil, a country in nutritional transition, there are some parts in the South where youth are more likely to become overweight. Females, in particular, fail to achieve the recommended amounts of daily physical activity.
We have just published a study where the authors sought to investigate the relationships between metabolic risk factors and TV viewing. This study is part of our special issue entitled “Communication Technology, Media Use and the Health of Our Kids”.
This study included 262 females of 14-17 years of age, coming from Curitiba, a Brazilian town of more than 1.5 million inhabitants. Several measurements were taken, including height, weight, fasting glucose, insulin, HDL cholesterol and blood pressure. Data on moderate to vigorous physical activity and time spent watching TV were collected in the form of 3-day diaries.
The authors report that TV viewing was independently associated with increased prevalence of clustered metabolic risk in girls, after adjusting for confounders. Lower levels of moderate to vigorous activity, higher BMI and lower mother education resulted in higher metabolic risk.
The study concludes that increased TV viewing had an adverse effect on metabolic health of adolescent girls. This highlights the potential importance of preventive actions (which would target both sedentary and physically active behaviors) to ameliorate metabolic risk in youth
* This study was written by Aristides M. Machado-Rodrigues, Neiva Leite, Manuel J. Coelho-e-Silva, Fernando Enes, Rômulo Fernandes, Luís P. G. Mascarenhas, Margaret C. S. Boguszewski and Robert M. Malina