A new report out this week listed 15 ways in which watching television damages children’s health.
Among them were obesity and Type 2 diabetes, premature puberty and autism. The report suggests that watching too much TV at a young age has been linked to hormonal changes that disrupt sleep, promote obesity and lower immunity to disease.
The report, published in the Biologist science journal, looked at evidence from 35 scientific studies and concluded that cutting children’s exposure to television should become a health priority for the UK government in order to protect the health of youngsters and save the NHS money.
“Poor diet and a lack of physical activity significantly increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes,” commented Cathy Moulton, Care Advisor at Diabetes UK.
“Children should be taking part in at least one hour of physical activity every day and should be eating a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables. The link suggested in this report is more likely to be due to children eating too much junk food while watching television and not taking part in enough physical activity.”
According to Dr Sigman, who conducted the study, children in the UK spend the most amount of time out of all children in Europe in front of the television. By the age of six, the average UK child has spent a full year of their life watching television.
The report comes at a time when other research has shown UK children to be at the bottom of the UNICEF league table as the unhappiest children in Europe.