Science & Tech

More TV means fewer veggies

1 min read

Adolescents who increase the amount of TV they watch decrease amount of fruits and vegetables they eat

Harvard researchers tracked 548 sixth and seventh graders from public schools for 19 months. The children were asked to fill out surveys to determine the time they spent per day watching television, movies or videos; time spent per day on physical activities and how many fruits and vegetables they consumed daily. The average amount of TV viewing per day was three hours and total fruit and vegetable consumption among the participants decreased by one-third of a serving per day, going from just over 4.25 servings to 3.9 servings. The recommended number of servings per day is five. “Children’s TV programming bombards kids with commercials, targeted to their demographic, primarily for sweetened foods and drinks. Commercials advocating for fruit and vegetable consumption are rare. The findings in this study help build a case for using television to disseminate messages about healthy eating and nutrition and the consequences of poor diet,” said Steven Gortmaker, senior author. The research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and from the National Institutes of Health Public Training Grant. The study appeared in the December 2003 issue of the journal Pediatrics.