Adiposity and different types of screen time

Pediatrics. 2013 Dec;132(6):e1497-505. doi: 10.1542/peds.2013-0887. Epub 2013 Nov 25.


Objective: Few prospective studies have examined separate forms of screen time in relation to adiposity. Our objective was to assess independent relations of television, electronic games (video/computer), and digital versatile disc (DVD)/videos and total screen time with change in adolescent BMI.

Methods: Using data from the 2004, 2006, and 2008 waves of the ongoing Growing up Today Study II, we assessed baseline and 2-year change in reported screen time in relation to concurrent change in BMI among 4287 girls and 3505 boys aged 9 to 16 years in 2004. Gender-specific models adjusted for previous BMI, age, race/ethnicity, growth/development, months between questionnaires, and physical activity.

Results: Among girls and boys, each hour per day increase in reported television viewing was associated with a 0.09 increase in BMI (Ps < .001), and each hour per day increase in total screen time was associated with a 0.07 increase among girls and 0.05 increase among boys (Ps < .001). Among girls only, greater baseline television, games, and total screen time and change in DVDs/videos were associated with gains in BMI (Ps < .05). BMI gains associated with change in television and total screen time were stronger among overweight girls than lean girls (Ps-heterogeneity < .001).

Conclusions: Television, which remains the steadiest source of food advertising, was most consistently associated with BMI gains. Among girls, electronic games and DVDs/videos were also related to increased BMI, possibly due to influences of product placements and advergames on diet and/or distracted eating. Adolescents, especially overweight adolescents, may benefit from reduced time with multiple types of media.

Keywords: BMI; adiposity; adolescent; body weight; longitudinal studies; sedentary lifestyle; television; video games.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity*
  • Adolescent
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Overweight / physiopathology
  • Overweight / psychology
  • Self Report
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Television* / statistics & numerical data
  • Video Games / adverse effects*
  • Video Games / statistics & numerical data
  • Videodisc Recording / statistics & numerical data
  • Videotape Recording / statistics & numerical data
  • Weight Gain*
  • Young Adult