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Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health have quantified a fairly obvious-sounding notion - that children's consumption of fruit and vegetables goes down as their TV viewing goes up.
The study followed 548 Massachusetts kids, over 19 months from 1995 to '97. At the start of the study (published in the December issue of Pediatrics), the subjects, whose average age was 12, ate roughly 4.2 servings of fruit and vegetables and watched three hours of TV per day.
The research showed that kids who increased TV viewing by an hour per day over the course of the study ate an average of two fewer servings of fruit and vegetables per week than those who didn't watch television at all.
Study author Renee Boynton-Jarrett believes that the ads her subjects saw during their TV viewing may have influenced them to eat more chips or cookies in place of an apple or carrot sticks. She did not track specific programs and ads the adolescents saw but noted that very little advertising on shows aimed at young audiences has to do with healthy eating.
Boynton-Jarrett also speculates that TV viewing may lend itself more to eating prepackaged snacks than to other types of food.
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