Relationship Between Media Viewing and Obesity in School-Aged Children in Taipei, Taiwan

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Abstract

Background:

Increased media viewing such as watching television and videos and playing on/using computers has been associated with childhood obesity. Guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend limiting children’s total media time to no more than 2 hours per day. Information about media usage and school-aged obesity in Taiwan is lacking.

Purpose:

The purpose of this study was to investigate whether media viewing after school is associated with the total and centralobesity in school-aged children in Taipei, Taiwan’s capital and largest city.

Methods:

A case-control study was designed, and a control approach was used to recruit participants. Two hundred seventy-five obese and 275 normal-weight children currently in the fourth grade were enrolled from 29 elementary schools in Taipei City. Media viewing after school was measured using a 3-day self-reported physical activity log and the daily sedentary activity component of the National Health Interview Survey in Taiwan. The latter was completed by the participants’ parents.

Results:

Participants with total obesity had significantly more television watching time (60.24 minutes vs. 43.50 minutes, p < .05) and total media watching time (73.61 minutes vs. 52.67 minutes, p < .001) than normal-weight participants. Similar results were found for participants with central obesity. Total television and total media watching durations greater than 2 hours a day correlated significantly with total and central obesity. Time spent using computers did not differ significantly between obese and normal-weight control participants on weekdays.

Conclusions/Implications for Practice:

Childhood obesity may be multifactorial in origin. Excessive sedentary activity such as watching television may have a variety of consequences beyond the putative effect on body habitus. School nurses should promote health programs targeted to prevent excessive weight and obesity in children, recommend reducing media viewing, and encourage patient participation in extracurricular outdoor activities.

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