Interesting Study -Detrimental Dose-Response of Screen Time

In 1995, there was a Batman movie, “Batman Forever,” in which one of the central villains, the Riddler, places these brainwave devices over the TVs to gain control of Gotham.  The sad part, according to a recent study (J Zhao et al. J Pediatr 2018; 202; 157-62) is there is no need to add a brainwave device to a TV set.  Excessive screen time alone is quite detrimental.

In this cross-sectional survey in Shanghai with more than 20,000 children, the authors found the following:

  • Mean screen time for preschool children was 2.8 hrs per day.  78.6% exceeded 1 hour per day and 53% exceeded 2 hrs per day.
  • Every additional hour of screen time was associated with increased risk for poor psychosocial well-being; this effect on well-being had a number of mediators including reducing parent-child interaction as well as increased body mass index and reduced sleep duration.

My take: This study reinforces the consequences of excessive screen time  –now, the hard part — how to translate these findings into reduction in screen time.

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Skinnier TVs and Heavier Kids

A recent study showed an association between having a TV in the bedroom with increased weight gain (JAMA Pediatrics 2014; 168: 427-34).  Here’s a link: Bedroom TV and obesity study. My emphasis in bold:

Design: “We conducted a random-digit prospective telephone survey that captured children and adolescents from across the United States. Participants included 6522 boys and girls aged 10 to 14 years at baseline who were surveyed via telephone about media risk factors for obesity. Weighted regressions assessed adiposity at 2- and 4-year follow-up, controlling for television and movie viewing, video-game playing, parenting, age, sex, race or ethnicity, household income, and parental educational level.”

Results: “Distributions for age, sex, race or ethnicity, and socioeconomic status were similar to census estimates for the US population. Sample weighting methods accounted for higher dropout rates among ethnic minorities and those with lower socioeconomic status. Bedroom televisions were reported by 59.1% of participants at baseline, with boys, ethnic minorities, and those of lower socioeconomic status having significantly higher rates. In multivariate analyses, having a bedroom television was associated with an excess BMI of 0.57 (95% CI, 0.31-0.82) and 0.75 (0.38-1.12) at years 2 and 4, respectively, and a BMI gain of 0.24 (0.02-0.45) from years 2 to 4.

Conclusion: “Having a bedroom television is associated with weight gain beyond the effect of television viewing time. This association could be the result of uncaptured effects of television viewing or of disrupted sleep patterns. With the high prevalence of bedroom televisions, the effect attributable to this risk factor among US children and adolescents is excess weight of 8.7 million kg/y.

Comment: While this study targets TV, “screen time” has now expanded to cell phones, tablets, and computers.  All of these may be detrimental to physical well-being.

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