Childhood obesity has been a prevalent issue in recent times and there is constant research being conducted that delves into the causes, effects and negative repercussions of this health risk. One of the latest studies draws a correlation between parental monitoring of children’s media consumption and their children’s respective body mass indices.
The study was led by Stacey Tiberio from Oregon Social Learning Center in Eugene, Oregon. It included data that was collected from 112 mothers, 103 fathers and their 213 children from June 1998 to September 2012. The parents and children completed questionnaires, were interviewed and received physical examinations when the children were five, seven and/or nine years old.
It was found seven-year-old children weighed less when their mothers were supervising their media exposure and also gained little weight over the next few years. It was also discovered that this correlation held when other factors such as annual income, educational level, parents’ BMI and general parental supervision remained at constant levels. Although, the researchers confirmed that there is an association between media supervision and children’s weight, they are unable to provide a concrete explanation as to why. It could be that because their media use was being constantly monitored, the children felt more inclined to engage in some form of physical activity. Another possibility is that due to their limited media exposure, they were not bombarded with the numerous food advertisements.
On the other hand, researchers concluded that fathers did not have the same effect. This may be because the mother is often the children’s primary caregiver; however this is only the findings of one study.
The researchers have noted that fully understanding the relationship between parental media supervision is essential to the development of childhood obesity prevention programs and related interventions. It is often found that childhood obesity usually carries over into adolescence and that once you fall into that weight group, it is difficult to get out. This new study supports the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics, who suggests that children’s screen time should be limited to two hours a day of high-quality content.
Read the full study here.