TV and the Internet: Fattening for Teens?

Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review
March/April 2004 Volume 15, Number 2
©2004 Gürze Books

Can a steady diet of watching television and using the Internet increase a teen’s risk of becoming overweight? Dr. Susanna Kautiainen and colleagues at the University of Tampere, Finland, surveyed a nationally representative sample of 6,515 teens 14 to 18 years of age to see if the time they spent on the Internet was tied to obesity or overweight. Of the 70% who responded, 35% of the boys and 22% of the girls used the Internet. Internet use per se was not associated with overweight in either sex. However, overweight was slightly more common among girls who spent at last an hour daily using the Internet, compared to other girls who did not use it (14% vs. 11%). “Internet addiction” (the inability to avoid going online at least once a day) was associated with overweight among boys but not with girls. In a second study, Dr. P. Iacovazzo and co-workers studied patterns of TV watching among 721 boys and girls 11 to 14 years of age. Those who spent more time in front of the TV were more often overweight and obese than those who spent less time watching TV. Both studies were reported last September at the 13th European Obesity Group Workshop in Mesagne, Italy.

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