Public IJBNPA in 2007. Written by Luis F Gomez, Diana C Parra, Felipe Lobelo, Belen Samper, José Moreno, Enrique Jacoby, Diego I Lucumi, Sandra Matsudo and Catalina Borda
Background: There has been an ongoing discussion about the relationship between time spent watching television and childhood obesity. This debate has special relevance in the Latin American region were the globalization process has increased the availability of screen-based entertainment at home. The aim of this study is to examine the association between television viewing and weight status in Colombian children.
Methods: This cross sectional investigation included children aged 5 to12 yrs from the National Nutrition Survey in Colombia (ENSIN 2005). Weight and height were measured in 11,137 children in order to calculate body mass index. Overweight was defined by international standards. Time spent viewing television was determined for these children through parental reports. Multiple logistic regression analyses were conducted for different subgroups and adjusted for potential confounders in order to study the association between television viewing and weight status in this population. Results: Among the surveyed children, 41.5% viewed television less than two hours/day; 36.8% between two and hours/day and 21.7% four or more hours/day. The prevalence of overweight (obesity inclusive) in this population was 11.1%. Children who were classified as excessive television viewers (between two and 3.9 hours/day or 4 or more hours/day) were more likely to be overweight (OR: 1.44 95% CI: 1.41–1.47 and OR: 1.32 95% CI: 1.30–1.34, respectively) than children who reported to watch television less than 2 hours/day. Stratified analyses by age, gender and urbanization levels
showed similar results. Conclusion: Television viewing was positively associated with the presence of overweight in Colombian children. A positive association between urbanization level and television viewing was detected. Considering that the majority of Colombian children lives in densely populated cities and appear to engage in excessive television viewing these findings are of public health relevance for the prevention of childhood obesity.