The Association between Screen Time and Weight Status in Hispanic Children

BAOJ Obes Weight Loss Manag. 2015;1(1):001. Epub 2015 Sep 4.


Background: About one-third of U.S. children are overweight or obese and the number is even higher among Hispanics children (41%). In this regards, the time spent in sedentary behaviours is higher among Hispanic children versus non-Hispanic white children. But whether the home environment contributes to the obesity disparity among Hispanic children through the promotion of sedentary behaviours at home is less known. We aimed to investigate the associations between the home environment, parental limiting, and screen time with Hispanic children's body weight.

Methods: Study participants were middle school Hispanic children (n=187), ages 10-14 years and their parents. Children's anthropometrics were measured and used to calculate BMI z-scores. Questionnaires were used to assess children's time spent on physical activity (PA), sedentary activities, and to query parents on the home environment and parental limiting.

Results: Total time (h/d) spent watching television (TV) was positively associated with children's BMI z-score (P=0.02). However, no association was found between total screen time (TV, video games, and computer) and PA and with children's BMI z-score. Sleeping time (h/d) was inversely associated with children's BMI z-score (P=0.02); while there was a significant interaction between sleeping time and gender (P-interaction=0.02). Further, having a screen in the bedroom was positively associated with children's TV and total screen time (P<0.05); while parental limits on screen time was inversely associated with children's screen time (P<0.05).

Conclusions: Screen and sleep time may contribute to higher body weight among Hispanic children, independently of associations with physical activity. Our findings suggest a differential effect of gender in the contribution of sleep time to higher body weight, in that girls spent less time sleeping when compared to boys. These findings can inform obesity-prevention efforts to intervene at the family level in improving sleeping patterns and increasing physical activity while reducing sedentary opportunities at home.