Why televisions should be banned from toddlers' bedrooms to help tackle obesityMore than a fifth are overweight or obese by the time they start school, according to official figuresWatching television increases risk of children becoming dangerously overweight
09:39 GMT, 6 April 2012
Parents should remove televisions from children’s bedrooms to combat record rates of obesity in youngsters, experts have warned.
And nurseries need to ban toddlers from watching programmes in a bid to prevent a growing number of children from starting school dangerously overweight, according to academics involved in an EC-funded project.
The ‘ToyBox’ survey found that obesity among European pre-schoolers is at record levels.
Warning: Children sit especially still while watching television, reducing their energy expenditure below that required for other sedentary activities, the study found. (posed by models)
In Britain, more than a fifth are overweight or obese by the time they start school, according to official figures.
Nearly 40 per cent of pre-school girls in Spain are now classified as overweight or obese, academics discovered.
The four-year study also found that more than one in eight children overweight in northern Europe – rising to more than 25 per cent in parts of southern Europe.
Yannis Manios, assistant professor at Harokopio University, Athens, who is co-ordinating the project, said: ‘We need a new approach to prevent obesity.
‘We found that many countries are lacking clear guidelines on healthy eating and active play.
‘However, there is good evidence linking sedentary behaviour, such as television watching, with subsequent obesity.’
Epidemic: Record levels of obesity among Europe and Britain's youngsters is storing up serious health problems, the four-year-study highlighted
Children are particularly still when watching television, reducing their energy expenditure below that required for other sedentary activities, studies have found.
Prof Manios went on: ‘Therefore, television watching in kindergartens should be replaced by more active, non-competitive, fun activities which will promote the participation of the whole class and help children to achieve optimal growth, health and well-being.
‘Similarly at home, TVs in the bedroom and unhealthy snacks in the kitchen cupboard are a bad idea. Parents should also remember that their role is not only to provide healthy food and drink options but to act as a role model themselves, since kids are copying their behaviours.’
The study involves research in Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland and the UK.
The brief of the project, which has a 2.4 million grant from the European Commission, is to ‘develop and test an innovative and evidence-based obesity prevention programme for children aged four to six years’.