Against Television: Part 3


Television watching contributes to obesity. Moreover, it contributes to obesity in children.

Basically, kids watch TV for entertainment and education (note: they learn from content regardless of whether or not the programming is deemed "educational" by the content providers -- They'll learn things from Sesame Street just as quickly as they will learn things from 21 Jump Street; you decide what you want your children to learn...).

Watching television is a sedentary activity. Kids today watch more television than they ever did in the past (keep this in mind for a couple of minutes as you read this). Kids today are more sedentary than ever before (partially due to their increased television usage) -- they spend 75% of their time being inactive and only an estimated 12 minutes a day being physically active (Strauss, Rodzilsky, Burack, Colin, 2001). While they're sitting in front of the television, they're being primed to eat more energy-dense junk food by commercials for those kinds of junk-food products. Children are exposed to an average of ten food commercials an hour, and most of these are for junk food. Yes, research shows that this increases their intake and preference for junk food (Ebbeling, Pawlak, Ludwig, 2002, p3 [p475 in The Lancet]. Childhood obesity leads to increased risk of premature illness and death later in life (Ebbeling reference #44). Furthermore, childhood obesity is causing children to develop type II diabetes at a previously unheard-of rate.

Excessive television watching contributes to obesity in adults in much the same way it does it for children. First, consider that kids are getting diabetes during childhood due to obesity that is ostensibly caused in some part by sedentary behavior including television watching. These children have more illnesses later in life. The obesity may start in childhood but it effects a person most heavily in adulthood, which is when most of the illnesses set in. You can't do anything you want to do between the hours of 8 and 11 pm if your "shows" are on. When you plan activities around the TV shows you need to watch, you lose the wonderful ability to be spontaneous.


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