Could a decrease in television viewing lead to better nutrition and improved health? Some recent studies appear to point in that direction. With the increasing number of available programming, and cable and satellite transmission of signals, television viewing has played an increasing role in family entertainment over the past century. With that, more children, adolescents and adults spend an increasing amount of time in front of the TV. Increases in TV viewing are correlated with less physical activity, and expose viewers to commercials advertising foods low in nutrition.

Researchers from Deakin University, Victoria, Australia, reviewed 53 studies assessing an association between at least one sedentary behavior and at least one aspect of dietary intake in children, adolescents and adults. They found for all ages groups an association between less television viewing and increased eating of nutritious fruits and vegetables, and lower consumption foods that lack nutrition, such as high-energy snacks, sugary drinks and fast foods.

A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine reported a similar result, showing that among in U.S. children and adults less time spent watching TV was associated with a healthier diet.

Television viewing also appears to increase calorie intake. Since television watching is a sedentary activity, the extra calories add pounds. These findings came from additional studies conducted at Deakin University and the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

It’s important to recognize that none of these studies drew their conclusions solely on the basis that watching TV while eating, but less TV viewing in general, correlated with better nutrition.



Cox R, Skouteris H, Rutherford L, Fuller-Tyszkiewicz M, Dell’ Aquila D, Hardy LL. Television viewing, television content, food intake, physical activity and body mass index: a cross-sectional study of preschool children aged 2-6 years. Health Promot J Austr. 2012 Apr;23(1):58-62.

Pearson N, Biddle SJ. Sedentary behavior and dietary intake in children, adolescents, and adults. A systematic review. Am J Prev Med. 2011 Aug;41(2):178-88.

Sisson SB, Shay CM, Broyles ST, Leyva M. Television-viewing time and dietary quality among U.S. children and adults. Am J Prev Med. 2012 Aug;43(2):196-200.

Sisson SB, Broyles ST, Robledo C, Boeckman L, Leyva M. Television viewing and variations in energy intake in adults and children in the USA. Public Health Nutr. 2012 Apr;15(4):609-17. Epub 2011 Nov 9.

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