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Childhood Hypertension Linked to T.V. Watching — an article on the Smart Living Network
August 27, 2010 at 8:00 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Childhood Hypertension Linked to T.V. Watching


When television was first introduced to Americans, anyone who could afford a TV set purchased one. Within a few decades, every household had not one, but two or more televisions. The TV has become so commonplace in our world that any real danger it may present is not given much emphasis. So what if our children watch TV? How can something thats so enjoyable be bad for them?

Technology Wreaks Havoc with Childrens Health

Most adolescents in the United States have access to a TV or computer or both at all times. Unfortunately, unlimited access to these methods of entertainment has created a health issue among our youngest citizens: obesity and hypertension. Childhood obesity in the U.S. has increased dramatically in the past three decades. Approximately 17 percent of American adolescents are obese, and childhood obesity comes with a whole set of health issues, including cardiovascular risk factors, which can lead to a lifetime of problems. In this case, hypertension formerly only suffered by adults can be linked directly to too much time spent sitting in front of the television. And obesity does not need to be present in order for children to experience high blood pressure. A study conducted by Michigan State University concluded that children did not need to be overweight or obese to experience signs of hypertension if they led a sedentary lifestyle, and spent time in front of a computer or TV screen. According to Joe Eisenmann, a professor in Michigan State Universitys Department of Kinesiology, It appears other factors, which occur during excessive screen time, should also be considered in the context of sedentary behavior and elevated blood pressure development in children. TV viewing often comes with unhealthy snacking behavior and also can lead to stress responses that disrupt sleep.

Children with Hypertension

According to another study, published in the December 2007 issue of the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, children who watched between two and four hours of television a day were two and a half times more likely to develop hypertension than children who watched less than two hours a day. The children who watched more than four hours of television were three and a third times more likely to develop hypertension. These figures promoted Jeffrey B. Schwimmer, MD, Director of Weight and Wellness at Rady Childrens Hospital in San Diego, to announce, The current study illustrates the need for considerable physician and family involvement to decrease TV time among obese children. He adds that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends less than two hours of TV viewing for all children, but also notes that only 51 percent of pediatricians actually make this recommendation to their patients. Schwimmer continues his argument by pointing out that several studies have shown that when TV time is reduced, it can lead to weight loss in obese children, even when physical activity is not increased. According to Stuart J.H. Biddle, from the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences from Loughborough University in UK, however, studies that pertain to TV viewing in relationship to sedentary behaviors are difficult to interpret. One of his arguments contained the following question: If obesity in children is related to TV viewing, why is obesity in adolescents rising while TV viewing times remain much the same? At present, researchers feel parents should follow the guidelines set up by the AAP, which state that children should not be allowed more than two hours of TV or computer time per day. Eisenmann also suggests adding 60 minutes of physical activity per day. First Lady Michelle Obama promotes the idea that children should get a little more exercise and a lot less television. Her Lets Move program is designed to help children become more active, to eat better, and also to get healthier. Sources:

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