The incidence of childhood obesity continues to increase around the world. There are many factors associated with obesity, whether it is childhood or adult obesity. Two related factors that are most commonly linked with the incidence of being overweight or obese are the lack of physical activity and the high rate of sedentary behaviors, particularly television watching. Research reports have suggested that television watching is associated with higher body mass index scores and poorer overall health. Because of this, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that television time for children be limited to no more than 1-2 hours of quality programming per day. Some research even suggests that children's total screen time (television, computer use, and video games) should be limited to less than one hour per day in order to reduce the incidence of being overweight.
It is often suggested that parents need to set a good example for their children by adopting healthier habits in regards to physical and sedentary behaviors; however, the actual impact of parental behaviors on subsequent child behaviors remain unclear. A new research study (free to read online or download) from the UK suggests that our television viewing habits as parents is strongly linked to our children's television viewing habits. For this study, the researchers examined physical activity measurements, overall sedentary time, and self-reported television viewing time from over 400 parent-child pairs. The investigators reported that: