Television viewing, computer use, and BMI among U.S. children and adolescents

J Phys Act Health. 2009;6 Suppl 1:S28-35. doi: 10.1123/jpah.6.s1.s28.


Background: To examine the prevalence of television (TV) viewing, computer use, and their combination and associations with demographic characteristics and body mass index (BMI) among U.S. youth.

Methods: The 1999 to 2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) was used. Time spent yesterday sitting and watching television or videos (TV viewing) and using the computer or playing computer games (computer use) were assessed by questionnaire.

Results: Prevalence (%) of meeting the U.S. objective for TV viewing (< or =2 hours/day) ranged from 65% to 71%. Prevalence of no computer use (0 hours/day) ranged from 23% to 45%. Non-Hispanic Black youth aged 2 to 15 years were less likely than their non-Hispanic White counterparts to meet the objective for TV viewing. Overweight or obese school-age youth were less likely than their normal weight counterparts to meet the objective for TV viewing.

Conclusions: Computer use is prevalent among U.S. youth; more than half of youth used a computer on the previous day. The proportion of youth meeting the U.S. objective for TV viewing is less than the target of 75%. Time spent in sedentary behaviors such as viewing TV may contribute to overweight and obesity among U.S. youth.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Distribution
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Computers*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leisure Activities*
  • Male
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / ethnology
  • Overweight / epidemiology
  • Overweight / ethnology
  • Prevalence
  • Sex Distribution
  • Television*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Video Games