Television and Childhood Obesity Essay

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Television and Childhood Obesity COM/156 February 19, 2012 Marsha Solock Morgenstern Television and Childhood Obesity While television commercials may encourage children to eat things they normally would not eat, television in not the main factor for childhood obesity. Even though society blames television and it’s commercials for the growing childhood obesity epidemic, other reasons for childhood obesity can be attributed to this problem. Lack of exercise, what children eat while watching television and not getting the recommended amount of sleep needed are also problems causing childhood obesity. Displacement of Physical Activity

The lack of physical, daily exercise is missing in both our schools and our home life. Recommendations are for at least 60 minutes of aerobic physical exercise daily. This can be done at home as well as school but with communities built the way they are today over half of today’s children do not have safe routes for walking, biking, or playing. Only 27 states have policies that direct community-scale designs concerning parks, community centers, and sidewalks for neighborhoods. Video gaming is another reason for childhood obesity. Children on average spend approximately four hours daily playing video games.

As video gaming and computers become even more popular this number of inactive hours will likely increase. When children were compared, children with higher weight status spent more time playing electronic games than children with lower weight status. “Moderate” play, while it sounds benign, can have a huge impact, given the large number of American children who play electronic games. ” (Vandewater, Ph. D. , 2004) Children that are overweight are more sedentary with fewer friends and find themselves with more free time on their hands, which leads to more time spent playing video games to occupy their free time.

Calorie Consumption during Television Viewing Television (TV) time is another problem that can be attributed to childhood obesity. TV viewing has been blamed alone for the growing number of obese children, but research has found TV viewing is not the only problem. Children roughly eat 20 percent of their calories while watching TV. “Children are eating a lot of food in front of the TV and parents should be aware of it. ” (Norton, 2004 p. 1). Where TV and overweight children are concerned there are still many unknowns.

Children surveyed seemed to consume 17 to 18 percent of their weekday calories, and one-fourth of their weekend day calories while watching TV. Turning off the TV may be a good step in the right direction to help with childhood obesity, but adding more fruits, vegetables, and less fast food and sugary beverages will help with the problem also. With all the different types of media today children spend more time in front of computers and televisions. Research has found a strong association between the advertising of non-nutritious foods and the increasing role of childhood obesity.

Most children six and under can distinguish between advertising and programming and children eight or younger do not understand how persuasive advertising can be. Children can remarkably recall the contents of television commercials they have been exposed to and be partial to a product with just a single viewing of that product. With repeated viewing of product commercials children become partial to that one particular product and are the influence for parents making the product purchases they make. This leads to the purchase of non-nutritious foods by parents.

When it comes to advertising, health foods such as fruits and vegetables are almost invisible. Commercials for these food groups accounts for one percent of all food advertising for children. While research cannot come to a conclusive decision the impact different media’s have on children and their food choices, it is believed that the media should take more responsibility where advertising to children is concerned and increase their message to promote sound nutrition and physical fitness. Sleep Deprivation Another direct effect on childhood obesity is sleep deprivation.

Children who got the least amount of sleep along with children who got sleep during the week but stayed up late on the weekend tripled their chances of being obese. That leads to the question, “What are kids doing when they’re not tucked between the sheets? ” (whyweight. com February 24, 2011). To no one’s surprise the answer to the question is that they are playing video games, watching television, and eating loads of junk food. Sleep deprivation affects young growing bodies by messing up the metabolism and the endocrine system.

It also affects the two hormones that help to regulate hunger and appetite. Lack of sleep throws the body’s biological clock off which affects the control of glucose and insulin. Lack of sleep also regulates the way the body uses energy which is controlled by the hormone cortisol. High levels of cortisol are linked to higher BMI levels and insulin resistance. All of this causes overeating which leads to obesity. It is recommended that children should get at least nine to 10 hours of sleep a night.

Children under the age of five should be getting 11 hours of sleep or more per day, children five to 10 should be getting 10 or more hours of sleep per day, and children over the age of 10 should be getting at least nine hours of sleep per day. With every additional hour of sleep a child gets, the risk of the child becoming overweight or obese drops by nine percent. Getting the adequate amount of sleep can help to reduce obesity along with other health problems such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes in children.

In conclusion, studies show that while television and the commercial advertisements may be used to target children as consumers, television commercials cannot be blamed entirely for childhood obesity. Lack of exercise due to video gaming, snacking while watching TV, and children not getting enough sleep are the main reasons for childhood obesity. References The impact of food advertising on childhood obesity. (n. d. ). Retrieved from www. apa. org/print-this. aspx A growing problem. (2011, November 28). Retrieved from www. cdc. gov/obesity/childhood/problem. html

Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health (2008, February 7). Reduced Sleep Can Increase Childhood Obesity Risk. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 19, 2012, from http:/www. sciencedaily. com. releases/2008/02/080207104303. htm Norton, A. (2004, June). Kids do much of their munching in front of TV. Retrieved from dukeandthedoctor. com/2010/01/kids-do-much-of-their-munching-in-front-of-tv/ Obesity in children. (n. d. ). Retrieved from http://children. webmd. com/obesity-children Childhood obesity and sleep deprivation. (2011, February 24). Retrieved from blog. whyweight. com/childhood-obesity-and-sleep-deprivation/

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