Tots watching too much TV end up being muscle flops

baby muscle mesmerized by the TVThat always available, entertaining, educational, cheap baby sitter, may end up being, a very expensive proposition. She sends the bill for her services, years later as part of an obesity package, the reason, she “wired” your little one to be, a couch potatoe.

Research from the University of Montreal suggests the TV habits of tots, i.e. two to four year olds, impacts their size and shape i.e fitness level, in primary school.

TV makes you fat…

Most people would agree too much TV, which translates into too much couch time, is not a health move.

And moving more, is a recipe for better health.

But for tots, being glued to the box for hours on end, is a bigger problem than simply accumulating a few extra fat cells.

For tots, the problem is actually not a fat problem at 4 years, but a muscle problem at 10 years.

TV time keeping

The study began by documenting the TV habits of 1314 children participating in the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development.

TV time was recorded when the children were between 2½ and 4½ years old.

For 2½ year olds in this study, the average time spent watching the box, was 8.8 hours a week. As the little ones grew up, they watched a lot more TV, so by the time, the group reached 4½ years, an additional 6 hours had been added, so average TV time per week was 14.8 hours.

But, this is average – some little TV addicts were pulling in over 18 hours of Barney, Bob the builder and Banana in Pyjamas, along with adverts for Coco Pops and twinkies.

Fast forward ….

The study is a longitudinal study, which means it goes on for a “long” time. So, when these little ones reached the ripe old age of 10, they were called in for a fitness-cum-fatness assessment.

As expected, the BIG TV addicts at 4½ years old, were a little BIGGER, than the children who were spending less time in front of the TV. After all, it is much easier to graze on chips and cookies, when you’re engrossed in your favourite show.

And if you’re a certified addict at 4½, you’re probably still “doing” lots of TV watching at 10.

TV addicts were muscle deprived

The more interesting finding of this study was that the big TV watchers, were pretty lousy on the sports field.

Standing long jumps became shorter, by a couple of centimetres, with each additional hour of TV watched at the age of 29 months.

The ability to jump a distance from standing, is a good indication of overall athletic ability – so if you can’t raise up explosive leg strength to propel yourself forward, you’re not going to be good at most sports.

Now if you’re not good at something, do you want to do it ?

Muscle flops flop at physical activity

Being fit, is probably more important than being thin, in the big picture of things.

But if when it comes to moving, your athletic competence score is extremely low, you’re going to opt out of physical activity.

Although moving more won’t stop childhood obesity, a life time of lounging, will translate to a shorter, less healthy life.

Timeout the baby SITTER

As tempting as it is, to park the little one in front of the TV – be weary of that FREE baby SITTER.

Remember – there is no such thing as a FREE lunch, there is always a price to pay, don’t let your child pay the price because of poor muscle tone.

It is important to ensure your little one develops the right muscles and moves. A child with properly developed muscles, is going to find it a whole lot easier, to get moving.

NOTE : Official guidelines suggest limiting screen time for tots, to no more than 2 hours a day.

Early childhood television viewing predicts explosive leg strength and waist circumference by middle childhood. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 2012; 9 (1): 87 Caroline Fitzpatrick, Linda S Pagani, Tracie A Barnett.
 

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Further reading

kids playing follow the dad sleeping protects little ones from obesity  bad body chemistry strikes at any age
Fitness runs in families – fit fathers begat fit kids Early to bed is the secret to raising a skinny child Bad body chemistry can strike at any age – teenagers are in trouble

The 7 Big Spoons™…. are master switches that turn health on.

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Balance Eicosanoids Rein in insulin Dial down stress Sleep ! Increase Vit D Culivate microflora Think champion

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