Published on August 10th, 2009 in THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER.
Kids' screen time is linked to development of hypertension
More time plopped in front of a screen - computer, video, video game, and, particularly, television - may raise the risk of elevated blood pressure in children, according to a new study.
The researchers tracked activity levels of 111 children ages 3 to 8 - 57 boys and 54 girls - round-the-clock for a week via measurements from an accelerometer worn over the right hip as well as parents' reports of the average time their child spent sitting or engaging in activities that ranged from painting to watching TV. They also considered age, sex, height, percentage of body fat, and other differences.
Excessive TV time and total screen time were linked to elevated blood pressure - a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and other health problems - even when possibly related measures, such as body fat, were separated from the analysis. Children who spent less than 30 minutes a day in front of a screen tended to have the lowest blood pressures, the researchers report in the August issue of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. (The average was 90 minutes.)
Interestingly, the researchers did not find an association between blood pressure and sedentary behavior in general, leading them to suggest that factors specific to watching a screen - eating foods high in sugar, fat and salt, for example, or disruptive sleep patterns that have been associated with TV time - might play a role. - Heather J. Chin
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