July 18, 2012 (TSR) – People who like to watch television are more likely to have poor eating habits, according to a new study by U.S. researchers.
Researchers at the University of Oklahoma said they believed TV viewers are more likely to have bad eating habits because of the amount of time they spent sedentarily, as well as because of numerous ads for food products and restaurants, the daily newspaper Tulsa World reported Tuesday.
Chris Dalton, a family medicine doctor, told Tulsa World that the findings show that television viewing is associated with more than a lack of exercise. TV viewers are often exposed to many ads for sugary cereals, processed snack foods and unhealthy restaurant choices, which may influence what they eat. Meanwhile, eating while distracted can also lead to over-consumption, Dalton said.
The University of Oklahoma analysis looked at more than 14,000 Americans of all ages using information gathered in the 2003-06 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys. That information included the amount of time a person spends watching television and that person’s recollection of what he or she ate in a 24-hour period. The healthiness of a person’s diet was measured by the Healthy Eating Index, which uses 12 components to assign a score of as much as 100, according to the newspaper.
Scores ranged from 47 to 52.3 for those watching less than an hour a day to between 44.7 and 48.9 for those watching more than four hours a day. Susan Sisson, lead author of the study, said there is no evidence that television is bad itself but that it’s a good idea not to eat in front of the TV and to keep televisions out of children’s bedrooms.
“I always recommend watching less TV,” Sisson said. The researchers are also planning to study the effect of total screen time, such as with computers, smart phones and tablets.