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For Teens, Attention to TV Is Linked to Increased BMI Scores

Methods to interrupt these processes may curb obesity among screen media users, study finds

MONDAY, April 8 (HealthDay News) -- For adolescents, the attention paid to television is positively associated with increased body mass index (BMI), according to a study published online April 8 in Pediatrics.

David S. Bickham, Ph.D., from the Boston Children's Hospital, and colleagues examined the correlation between adolescents' screen media use and their BMI in a cohort of 91 13- to 15-year-olds. Participants completed a weekday and Saturday 24-hour time-use diary for one week and reported the amount of time spent using televisions, computers, and video games. Participants completed onscreen questionnaires on handheld computers in response to four to seven random signals per day, and reported the activities to which they were paying primary, secondary, and tertiary attention.

The researchers found that paying higher proportions of primary attention to TV correlated positively with increased BMI. There was an estimated 2.4 BMI point increase for the difference between the 25th and 75th percentiles of attention to TV. There was no correlation between the time spent watching TV and BMI, nor was there a link between the duration of use or the extent of attention paid to computers or video games with BMI.

"The observed association between attention to TV and BMI supports continued research on the influence of screen media on health, so that we can develop focused interventions that are feasible, palatable, and sustain the health, happiness, and productivity of young people in the Digital Age," the authors write.

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