Parents may have another reason to limit the amount of television their children watch.

Watching TV affects what kids eat even when they are not glued to it, according to results from a study published this month in Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine.

"We found that both the amount of television viewing as well as the frequency of snacking while watching TV were related to a cluster of unhealthy eating behaviors," said Leah Lipsky, the study's lead author and a staff scientist at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development, part of the National Institutes of Health, in Bethesda, Md.

The study also found that the relationship between television watching and some unhealthy eating patterns remained even when children were not watching TV, according to Lipsky and co-author Ronald Iannotti, also a staff scientist at the institute.

Results of the study found that, after controlling for socioeconomic factors, computer use and level of physical activity, watching television was associated with eating fewer fruits and vegetables and eating more candy, soda and fast food as well as skipping breakfast.

The unexpected result was that the relationship between television watching and some unhealthy eating habits remained even after the researchers controlled for television snacking.

"Most people say: 'Oh yeah, no, I snack when I'm at the TV. This is nothing new,'" Iannotti said. "But even when you control for snacking while at the computer or at the TV, the effect or the relationship between TV viewing and this dietary pattern continues, so it suggests that TV viewing may have an effect beyond simply what you're doing while you're watching TV. I think that's important."

Source: Chicago Tribune
http://www.chicagotribune.com/health/ct-x-tv-and-chid-health-0516-20120516,0,3859596.story