TV Time Linked With Unhealthy Diet In Kids And Teens: Study

We all know that too much TV is bad for us, but a new study illustrates how it can negatively affects kids and teens, in particular -- specifically their eating habits.

Researchers from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development found that the more TV a pre-teen or teenager watches, the more likely he or she is to skip daily breakfast, eat fast food, candy and sugar-sweetened beverages, and avoid fruits and vegetables. This was even after adjusting for factors like physical activity, age, family wealth, computer use and race/ethnicity.

"The relationship of TVV [television viewing] with this unhealthy combination of eating behaviors may contribute to the documented relationship of TVV with cardiometabolic risk factors," study researchers said.

The study, published in the journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, included 12,642 children and teens in grades 5 through 10 (average age of 13.4). The researchers found that older students were, in general, more likely to skip eating breakfast every day, while younger students were more likely to eat fruits and vegetables daily. Girls were also more likely to eat fruits and vegetables than boys.

Older students and boys were more likely to drink soda at least once a day, than the younger students or girls, researchers found.

Diet isn't the only thing that my be affected by too much TV. Last year, a study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that watching at least two hours of TV a day raises Type 2 diabetes risk by 20 percent and heart disease risk by 15 percent. The risk of premature death also goes up by 13 percent.

"The message is simple. Cutting back on TV watching can significantly reduce risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and premature mortality," study researcher Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health, said in a statement. "We should not only promote increasing physical activity levels but also reduce sedentary behaviors, especially prolonged TV watching."