Monday, February 27, 2012


Heavy television viewing has been associated with obesity. Television might lead to obesity through 3 primary pathways:

1) Displacing time that would otherwise be spent in physical activity

2) Promoting eating while viewing, which may foster both lower-quality and higher-quantity food intake;

3) Exposing children to food advertising, this adversely affects their diets.
Studies have shown that the third pathway of food advertising has the most impact on causing children to be overweight. Randomized experiments with children in preschool and first grade have shown that children experimentally exposed to a few commercials are more likely than unexposed children to have positive attitudes toward and to choose the advertised foods over alternatives. Furthermore, one study found that children exposed to advertising were also more likely than were participants in a control group to choose non advertised sugary foods. The effect of the advertising was thus not limited to the specifically advertised brands but had a more general adverse influence on their food choices
Marketers target very young children, and children start watching television at very young ages. Almost 90% of children begin watching television regularly before age 2, and the average age of initiation is 9 months. Marketing efforts begin with children as young as 2 years, in order to build brand awareness and brand sympathy. The typical first-grade child can already recognize and respond to more than 200 brands.
Research tells us that food advertising is highly effective. Food commercials increase children’s preferences for the advertised products and make kids more likely to ask their parents to buy the products for them. Marketers know this and spend billions of dollars a year on advertising campaigns targeted to children. One study found that children between the ages of eight and twelve years old see, on average, more than 7,600 food commercials every year. Food advertising wouldn’t be such a problem if most of the products being marketed were nutritious, but, unfortunately, that’s not the truth. Commercials for candy, snacks and fast food account for more than half of all food ads targeted to children and teenagers, and commercials for fruits and vegetables are almost nonexistent.
In 2003, the World Health Organization classified the marketing of unhealthy foods to children as a probable cause of childhood obesity. Eating while watching television is another likely reason why TV viewing can lead to obesity. More than 60% of children usually eat their meals with the TV on, and children regularly snack while watching TV. Research also suggests that children eat less healthy foods in front of the TV. For example, one study found that children eat more salty snacks and fewer fruits and vegetables when they eat with the TV on. In addition to affecting the types of foods children eat, television has an impact on how much food they consume. Kids tend to eat more food while watching TV than during other activities. Researchers have proposed that watching TV interferes with our bodies’ signals that we’re full. In other words, children become so engrossed in what they’re watching that they don’t realize they’ve had enough to eat.
The use of television during family dinners has also been examined. Family dinners without television have been shown to be beneficial to the diets of children and adolescents and have been associated with the likelihood of consuming five or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily Increased frequency of consuming family dinners was also associated with significantly higher intakes of several nutrients, including fiber, calcium, folate, iron, vitamins B6, B12, C, and E; and lower intake of saturated and trans fatty acids as a percentage of energy.
In a longitudinal study, family meals during adolescence predicted higher intakes of fruits, vegetables, many important nutrients and an overall higher quality diet in young adulthood.  Studies have shown that when television is on during family dinners, the positive nutritional consequences of eating together are reduced. For example, in a cross-sectional study, they found that in children of low-income families, servings of fruits and vegetables eaten were inversely correlated with the number of times per week the television was on during dinner. Other research confirmed that in parents, when the television was on during dinner, intake of fat increased, whereas servings of fruits and vegetables decreased. As parents are the gatekeepers of food provided to children, it stands to reason that parental eating behavior will impact children. These studies add further to the idea that diet quality is threatened by television, specifically when it is viewed during meal times. It's also reported that children who frequently ate while watching television had a preference for larger portions of energy dense, nutrient-poor foods.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Opinion Survey

1) If you have children in the home, how many are there, and what are their ages?

2) How much of an influence do you believe television viewing has on children? A lot, Somewhat, Only a Little, or None at All

3) In thinking about how much media your child uses including: television viewing and movies- would you say that those media are mainly a positive influence in their lives, a negative influence in their lives, not much of an influence one way or the other, or it depends.

4) How many TVs do you have in your household?

5) If you have a TV do you have cable, satellite TV, or not?

6) Is there a TV in your child’s/any of your children’s bedroom?

7) How much television do you watch with your children?

8) Now I’m going to read you a list of some things people say about children’s media use. For each one, please tell me if you think it is TRUE, NOT true, or you’re not sure if it’s true or not.

a) Kids who watch a lot more TV are more likely to have attention deficit disorder

b) Kids who watch a lot more TV are more likely to be overweight

c) Kids who watch educational TV have better verbal skills

d) Baby videos have a positive effect on early childhood development

e) Kids who watch television before bedtime have a harder time falling asleep


9. Is that based mainly on your OWN experiences and observations or on what you have heard in the news?

10) If you or your spouse work, is it part-time, full-time, retired, or not employed for pay?

Monday, February 6, 2012

American Academy of Pediatrics Recommendations

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under the age of two do not watch any TV. Why would they recommend this???  One important reason is because the first two years of life are considered a critical time for brain development (Kids Health Org, 2011).

Let’s first discuss how our brains work. Our brains contain neurons which are the functioning core of it. Each neuron contains branches or dendrites that emerge from the cell body. These dendrites take chemical signals across a synapse and the impulse then travels the length of the axon. Each axon has a sac which contains neurotransmitters at its tip. So, an electrical impulse then causes the release of the neurotransmitters which stimulate or prevent neighboring dendrites.

A remarkable increase in synapses occurs during the first year of life. The brain develops a functional architecture through the development of these synapses or connections.

The increase in synaptic density in a child's brain can be seen in figure 1. The interactions that parents assist with in a child's environment are what spur the growth and pattern of these connections in the brain.

Figure 1

As the synapses in a child's brain are strengthened through repeated experiences, connections and pathways are formed that structure the way a child learns. If a pathway is not used, it's eliminated based on the "use it or lose it" principle. Things you do a single time, either good or bad, are somewhat less likely to have an effect on brain development.

When a connection is used repeatedly in the early years, it becomes permanent. For example, when adults repeat words and phrases as they talk to babies, babies learn to understand speech and strengthen the language connections in the brain.

           An article from the Deseret News showed that babies are capable of lip reading.  A study was done on 180 babies ages 4 to 12 months old and scientists found that they don’t just learn to talk from hearing sounds. They are able to lip-read. Around 6 months of age is when babies begin to shift their eyes from intent eye gazing to studying mouths when people talk to them. This shows that quality face -time with your child is very important for speech development; more than turning on the latest DVD. The coos of early infancy start changing around age 6 months and then grow into the syllables of the baby’s native language until the first word comes out, usually right before  age 1. By babies first birthday they start shifting back to look at you in the eye again, except if they hear the unfamiliar sounds of a foreign language. Then, they stay with lip-reading a little bit longer.

          Since the year 1993, 3 studies done, have evaluated the effects of heavy television use on language development in children 8 to 6 months of age. These studies have shown that in the short term, children younger than 2 years old who watch more television or videos have expressive language delays. They also found that children younger than 1 year with heavy television viewing who are watching TV by themselves, have a significantly higher chance of having a language delay.

           Also, in order for a show to be educational your child needs to be able to understand the content and context of the video. Many of these videos tailored for infants or toddlers claim to be educational, but studies have shown that children under the age of two do not have the understanding yet.

Furthermore, TV can get in the way of exploring, playing, and interacting with parents and others, which all encourage learning and healthy physical and social development ( Kids Health Organization, 2011)