With so many channels available on TV and so many things to see on the Internet, very few people are interested in exercising.
A whole new generation of children are now growing up in front of the television and having access to Myspace and Facebook. At the same time, they spend more time in front of a TV or computer screen than they do engaging in physical activity.
Recent studies are showing that children that spend several hours in front of a screen are at high risk for developing heart disease and high blood pressure later on in life.
TV Time Leads to Problems Later in life
A recent study showed that children that spend too many hours in front of the TV are at risk for serious health problems later in life.
The study involved 1,492 children in Australia. The University of Sydney worked primarily with six and seven year olds. Their parents were given questionnaires and they were to gave detailed answers on their daily children’s’ activities.
The study found that the children had spent on average four times more time in front of a TV screen than they did getting some sort of exercise. After the answers were collected from the parents, they measured the width of the arteries behind the eyes of the children by using digital photographs.
What the researchers found was that the more time the children spent in front of a TV or computer screen, the narrower the arteries became. Narrow arteries are used as an indication of future risk for high blood pressure and heart disease.
The measurements of the width of the arteries behind the eyes are referred to as a “microvascular profile.” The more exercise the children had on a daily basis, the healthier the microvascular profile appeared.
Dr. Gopinath was one of the researchers involved in the study. Dr. Gopinath says “This suggests that unhealthy lifestyle factors may influence microcirculation early in life and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease in the future. “
He also went on to say that too much time spent in front of a TV or computer screen had a correlation with not exercising much, eating unhealthily and gaining weight. In other words, setting the stage to be a couch potato.
Couch Potatoes Later in life
The British Heart Foundation has done studies in recent years on the growing number of children that are becoming couch potatoes. They stated that unless children change their habits, their problems would only get worse in the future.
The University College of London did a study on the effect of living as a couch potato life has on health. They found that in comparison to people who spent less than two hours a day in front of a screen, a couch potato has a 48% chance of dying from various health problems and 125% risk for some sort of cardiovascular event.
In other words, adult couch potatoes have a higher chance of getting heart disease and high blood pressure, and having this contribute to an early death.
Changing Children’s Habits Early On
Dr. Gopinath was one of the researchers at the University of Sydney. He recommends replacing one hour of screen time with one hour of physical activity. Doing so would limit the narrowing of arteries behind the eyes.
He also says that parents have to lead by example, and exercise themselves. Everything has to be done to promote activity. Otherwise the future results could be very bad for children. He says that “the fact these changes are taking place in kids so young is very alarming.”
Heart Disease and High Blood Pressure in Children: University of Sydney Study
Heart Disease and High Blood Pressure in Children: More from Sydney
Risks of Being a Couch Potato: University College London
Heart Disease and High Blood Pressure in Children: Young Couch Potatoes