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Med J Aust. 2006 Jan 16;184(2):64-7.

Television viewing habits associated with obesity risk factors: a survey of Melbourne schoolchildren.

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Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research, Deakin University, 221 Burwood Highway, Burwood, Melbourne, VIC 3125, Australia.



To examine whether children's television viewing may be a useful indicator of risk of obesity-promoting versus healthy eating behaviours, low-level physical activity (PA) and overweight or obesity among children of primary school entry and exit ages.


Cross-sectional study, stratified by area-level socioeconomic status.


1560 children (613 aged 5-6 years [50% boys], and 947 aged 10-12 years [46% boys]) from 24 primary schools in Melbourne, Australia, randomly selected proportionate to school size between 1 November 2002 and 30 December 2003.


Parents' reports of the time their child spends watching television, their participation in organised physical activities (PA), and their food intake; each child's measured height and weight and their PA levels as assessed by accelerometry for one week.


After adjusting for the age and sex of child, the parents' level of education, clustering by school, and all other health behaviour variables, children who watched television for > 2 h/day were significantly more likely than children who watched television for < or = 2 h/day to: to have one or more serves/day of high energy drinks (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 2.31; 95% CI, 1.61-3.32), and to have one or more serves/day of savoury snacks (AOR, 1.50; 95% CI, 1.04-2.17). They were also less likely to have two or more serves/day of fruit (AOR, 0.58; 95% CI, 0.46-0.74), or to participate in any organised PA (AOR, 0.52; 95% CI, 0.34-0.80).


Health practitioners in the primary care setting may find that asking whether a child watches television for more than 2 hours daily can be a useful indicator of a child's risk of poor diet and low physical activity level.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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