Watching television for as little as one hour a day can make your children obese, says a new study.
The researchers found that children who watched TV for one hour or more daily were 39 percent more likely to become overweight and 86 percent more likely to become obese between kindergarten and first grade.
"Given overwhelming evidence connecting the amount of time TV viewing and unhealthy weight, paediatricians and parents should attempt to restrict childhood TV viewing," said study author Mark DeBoer, associate professor of paediatrics at the University of Virginia.
The American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) recommends limiting children and teens to less than two hours of screen time each day. The new study suggests that even that might be too much.
"Given the data presented in this study, the AAP may wish to lower its recommended TV viewing allowances," DeBoer noted.
For this study, researchers analysed data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey of 11,113 children who were in kindergarten between the 2011 and 2012 school year.
Lifestyle factors that could affect a child's educational performance were collected from parents, including the number of hours of television children watched on weekdays and weekends. In addition, children's weight and height were measured.
A year later, 10,853 of the children's height and weight were measured, and parents were again asked about their child's TV viewing habits.
The findings were presented at the Paediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in San Diego.