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Obesity and Screen Time For Kids

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

I thought this article was super interesting.




Basically says that multiple studies fail to find causality between screen time/video games and obesity. It seems to be more that obese and overweight kids play more video games... And it's indicative of a lifestyle problem.


All leads back to food choices, I suppose.

post #2 of 6

Well, I don't think (and my personal opinion only) that television and video games are the "cause" of obesity, but rather a tool by which one can achieve obesity if done in excess.  The time spent simply sitting is time spent not in other activities, such as exercise.  Food choices are important, but I feel that you can eat the best foods in the world and if you are not burning the energy created by those foods, than it just adds to body girth once all calories have been burned for basic bodily needs like brain function and breathing.  It would make sense that the more time kids spend in their free time in inactive situations like viewing television, the more likely they are to be obese.  


We let DD watch television in moderation, but she needs to be active too, more active than the time she is in inactive situations like television or DVD watching, etc.  



post #3 of 6

I don't think it all comes back to food choices. I think it all comes back to lifestyle, including food choices.


My oldest son (19) spends quite a bit of time playing video games. He's far from obese.  He's actually in great shape, and was the captain of his high school gymnastics team last year. When ds1 isn't playing videogames, he's out "throwing a disc around" with some friends, or walking to and from school (15-20 minutes - uphill on the way there), or working out at home or the school gym...weights, pushups, chin-ups, stuff like that, or climbing/jumping anything he comes across. He does handstands and does cartwheels when hanging out with his friends. When he can fit it in, he's planning to go back to Tae Kwon Do, and also take some dance classes, and would love to take sword fighting lessons at a local place. He has tons of interests, and one of them is playing videogames. He eats a bit more candy than he should (works in a movie theatre, so he has easy access), but mostly eats a reasonably good diet. He recently decided that pop was a bad idea, so stopped drinking it on a regular basis. He didn't drink it growing up, but did go through a period when he drank a lot of it. He's not super interested in nutrition, but does pay attention to it. There are so many different factors going on here!


I am obese. I wasn't when I was younger. Part of the problem is that I spend too much time at the computer, but I've been in a fatigue/computing time cycle for a long time. I'm finally buidling up some energy, and cutting back on the computer. (I've been somewhat anemic for several years, among other things. I think four babies, a stillbirth, and four c-sections, all between ages 34 and 41, took it out of me in a BIG way.) I make some stupid choices. But, sitting at the computer is only one part of the picture.


When I was younger, I knew a guy who spent at least eight hours a day, frequently more than that, playing videogames. He also drank at least a Super Big Gulp a day. He was skinny as a rail...probably because he was always moving when he wasn't playing games - martial arts, cycling, walking, running, etc. etc.


People keep wanting to find "the" reason for the obesity epidemic. There isn't one reason. There are many contributing factors.

post #4 of 6

Yeah, even if sedentary activities were a major cause of obesity (which makes sense), I'm perpetually annoyed that "screen time" and "video games" are seen as synonymous to "sedentary activities." There are a ton of other low-tech allegedly wholesome activities that are just as sedentary, and an increasing number of video games these days aren't sedentary at all. And don't even say anything about books ormath worksheets being better brain-exercise or whatever.


Obesity and sedentary activity certainly seem to build off each other both ways. Ever since I became obese (largely due to some medication I was taking), exercise has become even harder and more painful than it already was. Of course a little obese child is going to want watch TV more than he wants to go out and run a mile! Once you become fat for any reason, it's hard to get skinny....


Speaking of medication, isn't it becoming more common for kids to take medication for psychiatric reasons, especially antidepressants? I've never seen a statistic on it, but I've heard of more kids being diagnosed with depression.

post #5 of 6

ITA, Cyllya.  Funny how nobody ever blames obesity on reading and studying!  I don't love for my kids to have endless screen time, but I don't think there's any special screen voodoo going on that's going to put weight on them.  


I have never been a terribly active person, but I have definitely become less active over the last 20 years or so, and I've also put on quite a bit of weight.  I was half-way buying into all the move more/lose weight propaganda, but then last year, for the first time, I tried changing my diet *without* exercising.  I figured I had so much to lose that it would be hard on my body to start exercising before I got half-way or so to my goal.  But what ended up happening is that I really changed what was going on with my metabolism (went from running on carbs to a diet of nearly 80% fat and less than 1% carb) and then all of the sudden I had energy for the first time in years!  I am convinced now that the problem before was not that I was lazy or even that it was harder to exercise because I was carrying too many pounds, but that my body was not using it's fuel but obsessively storing it.  And once my metabolism changed significantly, it was able to actually use that fuel for good rather than evil.  eat.gif  I lost 40 pounds.  But then very soon after I added exercise (which I did because I *felt* like moving, not because I thought I should) I fell off the wagon and face planted in the carbs.  I feel like I figured out 90% of what I need to fix this problem, but there's still something missing.  I wish I knew if it was the exercise that screwed me up or if it was just a coincidence that I added it in right before I lost my mojo.


Anyway, I am not surprised that they can't show that lack of exercise causes obesity.  I don't think there's ever been a study that showed that exercise was good for weight loss, either.

post #6 of 6

re: obesity. I'm obese for a number of reasons - depression, emotional eating (I don't eat to make myself feel better, but the roots are emotional), sedentary lifestyle (mostly because everything just became too damned hard somewhere around my third c-section or fourth pregnancy...once my abs split, and I started having trouble with my sacroiliac joint, I just kind of...quit - working on that now), etc. But, the biggest reason is pure carb addiction, particularly pure sugar. I went off candy recently (I have decent meal and snack based eating habits, but then I pour candy binges on top), and lost five pounds in less than a week. I hadn't changed anything else - same activity level, same diet other than the candy - just quit candy. So, in my case, I think I know the single biggest factor.

But, honestly - the obesity doesn't bother me, exactly. The state of my abs bugs me. The aches and pains bug me. The weight itself doesn't. And, I don't think the aches and pains are from my weight - but I think the aches, pains and weight are rooted in sugar. The older I get, the more I think sugar is evil.

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