2 Studies Examine Bedroom TVs, Active Gaming and Weight Issues in Children

1. Bottom Line: Having a bedroom television is associated with weight gain in children and adolescents, and is unrelated to the time they spend watching.

Author: Diane Gilbert-Diamond, Sc.D., of the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, Lebanon, N.H., and colleagues.

Background: More than one-third of children and adolescents in the United States are overweight or obese. An estimated 71 percent of children and adolescents (ages 8 to 18 years) have bedroom televisions.

How the Study Was Conducted: The authors conducted a telephone survey in 2003 of 6,522 boys and girls (ages 10 to 14 years) to ask about bedroom televisions. Body mass index (BMI) at two and four years after baseline was based on self-report and parent-reported weight and height for their children.

Results: At baseline, 59.1 percent of the children surveyed reported having a bedroom television. More boys, ethnic minorities and children of lower socioeconomic status reported bedroom televisions. Having a bedroom television was associated with an excess BMI of 0.57 at two years and 0.75 at four years of follow-up, and a BMI gain of 0.24 between years two and four. The authors speculate the association could possibly be due to disrupted sleep patterns or greater exposure to child-targeted food advertising, although this study did not investigate causal reasons.

Discussion: “This study suggests that removing bedroom televisions may be an important step in our nation’s fight against child obesity. … This work underscores the need for interventional studies to explore whether removing televisions from child bedrooms results in lower adiposity (fat) gain.”

(JAMA Pediatr. Published online March 3, 2014. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.3921.

2.Bottom Line: A weight-management program that included active gaming, where children move around rather than sit still and play, increased physical activity among overweight and obese children and helped them lose more weight.

Author: Stewart G. Trost, Ph.D., of the University of Queensland, Australia, and colleagues.

Background: The prevalence of obesity has more than tripled among U.S. children and adolescents over the past three decades. Obese children are at risk of becoming obese adults and they are prone to developing a host of illnesses, including diabetes and high blood pressure. Active video gaming has been associated with increased physical activity.

How the Study Was Conducted: The authors evaluated the effects of active video gaming in a weight management program in YMCAs and schools in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Texas. The study included 75 overweight or obese children (average age 10 years) randomized to a weight management program plus active gaming (n=34) or to a weight management program alone (n=41). Children in the active gaming intervention received a gaming console, motion capture device and two active games during the 16-week program.

Results: Children in the active gaming intervention had increased physical activity: moderate-to-vigorous activity increased an average 7.4 minutes/day and vigorous physical activity increased 2.8 minutes/day at week 16. There was no change or a decline in physical activity among the children who participated only in the weight management program. Both groups saw a decline in a measure of body mass index (BMI), however the reductions were greater in the group that participated in active gaming.

Discussion: “Future studies should examine the effects of active gaming during longer follow-up periods, complete formal cost-effectiveness analyses, and examine whether the effects on weight loss and physical activity could be enhanced by incorporating goals specific to gaming into the program.”

(JAMA Pediatr. Published online March 3, 2014. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.3436.