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J Dev Behav Pediatr. 1989 Aug;10(4):176-80.

Television's influence on children's diet and physical activity.

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Child and Family Health Studies, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla 92093-0631.


Understanding the impact of TV on children's diet and physical activity is important for developing strategies to prevent obesity and sedentary lifestyles. Determining parents' perceptions of television's influence on children's dietary intake and physical activity may provide useful information on this important topic. A questionnaire was developed to assess viewing habits and child requests for food and sport items advertised on TV. It was administered to 66 mothers of children, ages 3-8. Foods that children requested because they had seen them on TV paralleled the frequencies with which these foods were advertised on TV. Weekly viewing hours correlated significantly with (a) reported requests by children and purchases by parents of foods influenced by TV, and (b) children's caloric intake. Children's requests for sport items and physical activities were not significantly correlated with the number of hours of TV viewing. It appears from these data that parents perceive that television influences family purchasing patterns through the mechanism of their children's requests.

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