Latest news from Loughborough University
14 September 2011 | PR 11/110
TV viewing linked to unhealthy eating
Spending time in front of the television is linked to an increased consumption of unhealthy snacks and drinks according to a recent review by Loughborough University experts.
Dr Natalie Pearson and Professor Stuart Biddle of the University’s School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences (SSEHS) reviewed 53 studies worldwide focussing on sedentary behaviour and dietary intake, and found a clear association between screen time and an unhealthy diet in children, adolescents and adults.
In particular, television viewing was strongly associated with the consumption of energy-dense snacks, drinks and fast food, and a lower consumption of fruit and vegetables.
Professor Biddle explains:
“Not only are television viewers exposed to numerous advertisements that can influence the type of food they desire and consume, but television can also act as a distraction, resulting in a lack of awareness of actual food consumption or overlooking food cues that may lead to overconsumption.
“For some people, a substantial proportion of their daily energy intake is consumed whilst watching TV.”
The research, which found similar behaviour patterns for children, adolescents and adults, highlights the important role parents can play in curbing unhealthy habits.
And because TV viewing and snacking habits are typically modelled by parents and carers, any interventions should aim to target adults and children together.
Dr Pearson adds:
“If parents place their children in front of the TV with a snack or a meal while they do other household chores, children may start to associate TV viewing with eating.
“The more time children and adolescents spend sedentary in front of a screen, the more likely they are to eat unhealthy foods.”
Findings are from the paper ‘Sedentary behaviour and dietary intake in children, adolescents and adults’, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, (August 2011). This, and related papers, are summarised on video here: www.scivee.tv/node/32396
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Notes for editors:
Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.
It was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year 2008-09 title, and is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in national newspaper league tables. In the 2010 National Student Survey, Loughborough was voted one of the top universities in the UK, and has topped the Times Higher Education league for the UK’s Best Student Experience every year since the poll's inception in 2006. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary Prizes.
Loughborough is also the UK’s premier university for sport. It has perhaps the best integrated sports development environment in the world and is home to some of the country’s leading coaches, sports scientists and support staff. It also has the country’s largest concentration of world-class training facilities across a wide range of sports.
It is a member of the 1994 Group of 19 leading research-intensive universities. The Group was established in 1994 to promote excellence in university research and teaching. Each member undertakes diverse and high-quality research, while ensuring excellent levels of teaching and student experience.