Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 18th 2015 Contents A28
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Children who lead inactive lives are likely to
grow up to become middle-aged couch potatoes,
a study suggests.
Researchers compared the TV viewing habits of
more than 6,000 British people born in a single
week in 1970, at the ages of ten and 42.
Parents should increase children s physical activity
to ensure they become fit and healthy adults, the
University College London authors conclude.
"Do something active to displace TV," advised
co-author Lee Smith.
"In the evening time when families tend to sit
down and watch TV they should try to go for walks
"If you can t go outside, try active computer
games, anything that gets people up and expending
energy rather than sitting down and snacking," said
Dr Smith, of the UCL epidemiology and public
acknowledge that for
today s children TV
viewing is often
replaced by time on
phones or tablets.
But Dr Smith
stressed the issues are
the same, that comput-
ers and phones are
"just a different way of
sitting down and relax-
ing," and parents need
to encourage children
to be more active.
The study draws the
British Cohort Study,
which gathers information on the economic cir-
cumstances, health, physical, educational and social
development of people born in England, Scotland
and Wales in 1970.
When they were ten, their parents were asked
how often the children watched TV and played
Their height and weight were recorded, as were
their parents occupations.
At age 42 they were asked how much time they
spent watching TV and on a range of physical activ-
ities and sports.
They were also asked to assess their health and
The study shows that the children who watched
a lot of TV aged 10 were 42 per cent more likely
to spend more than three hours a day in front of
the screen as adults than those who watched relatively
little television in childhood.
The 42-year-olds who watched TV for at least
three hours a day were more likely to be in only
"fair" or "poor" health and to rate themselves as
either overweight or obese.
They were also more likely to have had fathers
who were overweight and in routine or manual jobs.
The sons and daughters of manual workers were
twice as likely as managers children to watch more
than three hours of TV a day at 42, even after their
own educational qualifications had been taken into
Parents who are manual workers "are more likely
to be physically active at work and may compensate
for this by spending more time sitting down during
their leisure hours," suggests another of the
researchers, Dr Mark Hamer.
"Their children may then model their mothers
and fathers leisure activity patterns.
Inactive children 'can become
middle-aged couch potatoes'
"It is important that children keep active. And
if they can be encouraged to participate in sports,
so much the better."
The authors believe this is the first study to
use a large, representative birth cohort to correlate
childhood and adult TV viewing habits and health.
"Our work indicates that parents health-related
behaviours may at least partly influence children s
TV viewing habits more than three decades later,"
said Dr Hamer. (BBC)
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
News and Advice
Families should consider options like playing active games like Wii if they're
unable to do many outdoor activities.
"In the evening time
when families tend
to sit down and
watch TV they
should try to go for
If you can't go
outside, try active
anything that gets
people up and
rather than sitting
down and snacking."
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