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Study on Kids Say TV Leads to Junk Food

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CHICAGO - The more television children watch the less fruit and vegetables they eat, probably because the advertising they see leaves them craving junk food instead, a study said today.

Children surveyed for the study who spent more time watching television ate 0.16 fewer servings of fruit and vegetables for every extra hour watched. That additional hour a day of TV watching added up to one less nutritional serving every six days.

The children, who averaged 12 years of age, ate an average of 4.23 servings of fruit and vegetables per day, which was below the government-recommended five daily servings.

Heavy television viewing by children has been linked to eating more junk food, getting less exercise and obesity, but this was the first study to show that TV watching led to lower consumption of nutritious fruit and vegetables, said the report, which was published in the journal Pediatrics.

American children spend more time watching television than engaging in any other activity except sleeping, averaging 22 hours of viewing a week, the report said. They are exposed to 20,000 TV commercials a year, or 150 to 200 hours worth.

Study author Renee Boynton-Jarrett of the Harvard School of Public Health said most food advertising aired during children's shows conflict with healthy eating habits.


Copyright 2003 NYP Holdings, Inc. All rights reserved.

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