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Obesity (Silver Spring). 2006 Nov;14(11):2034-41.

The association of television and video viewing with fast food intake by preschool-age children.

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  • 1Center for Child Health Care Studies, Department of Ambulatory Care and Prevention, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and Harvard Medical School, 133 Brookline Avenue, 6th floor, Boston, MA 02215, USA.



To examine the extent to which television (TV) and video viewing is associated with consumption of fast food by preschool-age children.


In a cross-sectional study of 240 parents of children ages 2.0 to 5.9 years, parents reported the number of hours their child watched TV/videos on an average weekday and weekend day in the past month; a daily, weighted average of TV/video viewing was then calculated. The main outcome was parents' report of their children's fast food intake, using the question, "How many times a week does your child eat at fast food restaurants such as McDonald's, Burger King, or Kentucky Fried Chicken?" dichotomized to (never/<1 vs. > or =1 time/wk). The association of TV/video viewing with fast food intake was evaluated by multiple logistic regression before and after adjusting for several potential confounders.


Twenty-two percent of parents reported that their child ate at fast food restaurants at least once per week. After adjusting for parents' age, race/ethnicity, and household income as well as child's age and sex, for each 1-hour increase of TV/video watched per day, the odds ratio (OR) for consuming fast food > or =1 time per week was 1.60 (95% confidence interval, 1.03 to 2.49). After further adjustment for socio-environmental factors that might serve as proxies for the availability of healthy food options, such as parental time constraints and the availability and high cost of fresh fruits and vegetables in their neighborhoods, the OR for consuming fast food > or =1 time per week was minimally attenuated (OR, 1.55; 95% confidence interval, 1.04 to 2.31).


TV/video viewing was correlated with fast food consumption among preschool children in this study. Our findings raise the possibility that greater exposure to TV and videos may influence preschool children's consumption of unhealthful foods.

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