"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Watching television as a baby can result in health problems in adults

People who watched a number of television as children often suffer from health problems corresponding to hypertension and obesity in maturity, based on a study conducted over a period of fifty years and published in the net journal “The 40th Anniversary”. Pediatrics.

In the early Seventies, researchers on the University of Otago in New Zealand asked the parents of greater than 800 children to record how much time their children spent watching television at ages 5, 7, 9, 11, 13 and 15. The average period of time they watched television was two hours per weekday. The participants were followed until they were 45 years old.

“Those who watched the most television had a higher risk of metabolic syndrome in adulthood,” said Professor Bob Hancox of the University’s Department of Preventive and Social Medicine in a Press release.

Metabolic syndrome is a set of conditions that include hypertension, high blood sugar, excess body fat and abnormal levels of cholesterol that result in an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke, the press release said.

The result was also true when gender, body mass index in childhood and the family's economic situation were taken under consideration, the study says. Boys watched more television than girls and metabolic syndrome occurred more regularly in men than in women.

The research couldn't prove that television viewing actually caused these health problems in maturity. However, the authors said there could also be a link between the 2 aspects, as children who watch television may engage in less physical activity and develop unhealthy eating habits because they see junk food advertisements.

The results hold despite the indisputable fact that a much larger variety of screens can be found today.

“The disturbing thing is, what are we seeing today compared to 45 years ago?” said Dr. Colleen Kraft, a pediatrician and professor on the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine who was not involved within the study. US News and World Report“Children spend most of their day on their phones, tablets, computers or screens and are not actually active. So if we don't focus on children and give them the opportunity to be active, we will have to expect an avalanche of health problems in the future.”