Monday, January 28, 2008

Watching TV May Increase Blood Pressure Among Obese Children!

The issue of childhood overweight and obesity is a big problem for most countries. This is because obesity has long been identified as a risk factor for developing heart disease.

Watching TV is another problem among children who spend long hours sitting in front of the TV set instead of doing some physical exercises. But, are you aware that spending long hours in front of TV is more likely to raise blood pressure of obese children? This is the finding of a recent study conducted by the University of California, San Diego and published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. The researchers believe that increased psychological stress and junk food eaten while watching TV could be the factors that lead to the rising blood pressure.

The study found that obese children who watched 2 to 4 hours of TV each day were 2.5 times more likely than their peers who watched less TV to have high blood pressure, and kids who watched more than 4 hours daily had more than triple the risk of having high blood pressure.

There is no doubt that TV watching time clearly influences obesity, which can ultimately contribute to high blood pressure. In order to investigate this relationship, 546 children between 4 and 17 years old, who were seeking treatment for obesity, were evaluated. 43 per cent had high blood pressure.

Most of the study participants with high blood pressure watched 2 hours or more of television. The researchers also found that time spent watching television was also associated with the severity of obesity. While watching TV, kids may also be eating more fatty and salty foods that could directly contribute to high blood pressure.

In addition, children who watch more TV experience more perceived psychological stress. Evidence shows that stress can alter how the brain communicates with other organs, affecting blood pressure and body fat accumulation and distribution.

As such, it is essential to limit children's TV viewing to less than 2 hours a day, which is also the recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics. This is even important for children who are overweight and obese.

Another issue that that blood pressure is often ‘not measured’ in children. Even if it is measured, it is ‘often not done correctly’. Perhaps it is time for the parents of children to take up this issue with their child's doctor.

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