Introduction: The purpose of this study was to examine the associations among television viewing, eating practices, and overweight and health status of a nationally representative sample of adults in the United States.
Methods: Data on adults aged 20 years or older from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals 1994-1996 were used for the study. Participants' socioeconomic and demographic characteristics, macronutrient intakes, weight status, prevalence of health conditions, television viewing, and overweight status were analyzed. Survey design effects were used in the analyses.
Results: More than 2 hours of television viewing per day was associated with a high mean body mass index and overweight or obesity in both men and women. Other characteristics associated with watching more than 2 hours of television per day were being 50 years of age or older, having a high school education or less, living in a household with income below 131% of the federal poverty level, and not being employed. Adults who watched more than 2 hours of television per day had high intakes of energy and macronutrients and were more likely to be overweight. They also obtained more energy from snacks and supper. A higher percentage of adults with health conditions watched more than 2 hours of television per day compared with adults without health conditions.
Conclusion: Obesity intervention programs, especially those aimed at adults who are retired or not employed, should emphasize reducing time spent viewing television or videos or participating in similar sedentary activities and discourage snacking or eating while watching television.