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There is now scientific proof that TV watching causes obesity in kids. There has been much discussion regarding the report from the Universityof Montreal authors for the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity (IJBNP). But I’m not sure the sky is really falling. The main claim is that:

Those children watching 18 or more hours of television at 4.5 years of age will by the age of 10 have an extra 7.6 millimeters of waist circumference. The same children who watched 18 or more hours of television at 4.5 years of age had less “explosive leg strength” as measured by the standing long jump.

So that “waist circumference” comes to 0.29 of an inch by the time they’re 10. Anything’s bad, sure. But 1/3 of an inch?

Perhaps a better comparison is not the amount of TV watching, but the rate of poverty. Just compare these two maps. The left shows Obesity and Diabetes in the US. The right shows the poverty rate. There is your correlation. And perhaps that is why there’s more television viewing…there are far less alternatives for those children in poverty.

There are better things to do than watching over ten hours of TV a week. And kids are getting more obese. But TV’s not the killer. It’s a solution to so many. Maybe we should be eliminating poverty.

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