Television viewing and food intake during television viewing in normal-weight, overweight and obese 9- to 11-year-old Canadian children: a cross-sectional analysis

J Nutr Sci. 2015 Feb 27;4:e8. doi: 10.1017/jns.2014.72. eCollection 2015.


It is unclear if children of different weight status differ in their nutritional habits while watching television. The objective of the present paper was to determine if children who are overweight or obese differ in their frequency of consumption of six food items while watching television compared with their normal-weight counterparts. A cross-sectional study of 550 children (57·1 % female; mean age = 10 years) from Ottawa, Canada was conducted. Children's weight status was categorised using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cut-points. Questionnaires were used to determine the number of hours of television watching per day and the frequency of consumption of six types of foods while watching television. Overweight/obese children watched more television per day than normal-weight children (3·3 v. 2·7 h, respectively; P = 0·001). Obese children consumed fast food and fruits/vegetables more frequently while watching television than normal-weight or overweight children (P < 0·05). Children who watched more than 4 h of television per d had higher odds (OR 3·21; 95% CI 1·14, 9·03; P = 0·03) of being obese, independent of several covariates, but not independent of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. The finding that both television watching and the frequency of consumption of some food items during television watching are higher in children who are obese is concerning. While the nature of the present study does not allow for the determination of causal pathways, future research should investigate these weight-status differences to identify potential areas of intervention.

Keywords: CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Childhood obesity; Food intake; ISCOLE, International Study of Childhood Obesity, Lifestyle and the Environment; MVPA, moderate-to-vigorous physical activity; Screen time; Sedentary behaviour.