TV in Teens’ Bedrooms Promotes Poor Diet and Exercise Routines

University of Minnesota School of Public Health researchers have found that a television in the bedroom promotes poor dietary, study and exercise habits among teenagers. 62% of a sample of 781 teenagers aged 15 to 18 in the Minneapolis area had a television in their bedroom, and spent 4 to 5 hours per week watching television. Bedroom TV owners ranked as heavy watchers, at least 5 hours a day—twice the amount of teenagers without one.

Boys among the television owners achieved a lower grade point average, had less fruit and ate fewer meals with the family than boys without one. Girls owning television sets spent only 1.8 hours per week exercising (versus 2.5 hours for girls without one), consumer less vegetables, ate fewer family meals and drank more sweetened soft drinks.

Daheia Barr-Anderson, one of the research team, was quoted as saying that these results showed that there were clear advantages to banning a TV from a teenager’s bedroom. This view was supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which encouraged the removal of TV sets by parents from their childrens’ bedrooms. The findings of the study were published in the Academy’s journal, Pediatrics.

Statistically, the study showed that 68% of boys, compared with 58% of girls, would probably have a bedroom TV, while children from the highest income families were less likely to have one. 82% of black teenagers had a television in their bedroom, while only 66% of Hispanic teens and 60% of whites had one. 39% of Asian American teens reported ownership.

In this study, body mass index was not found to influence teenage obesity, although Barr-Andersen quoted previous studies that showed that ownership of a bedroom TV was a strong predictor of obesity. Both boys and girls with bedroom TV’s admitted to devoting less time to reading and homework, although the differences were not statistically significant, said the researchers.