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Medicine Television

Study Shows TV Makes Kids Fat, Computers Don't 276

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the now-pass-the-cheetos dept.
Xemu writes "Computers don't make children fat, but watching TV for the same length of time does. This is shown by a recent Swedish study of all school children in Lund's county conducted by RN Pernilla Garmy. The results were clear: The child's obesity was directly affected by placing a TV in the child's room, but placing a computer in the room had no effect at all. One theory is that it's common to have a snack in front of the TV, while a computer requires a more active user, for example when chatting or playing games."
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Study Shows TV Makes Kids Fat, Computers Don't

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  • I knew it (Score:5, Funny)

    by raddan (519638) * on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @10:43AM (#31425954)
    Computers are awesome.
  • Interesting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pojut (1027544) on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @10:45AM (#31425982) Homepage

    The article is likely correct about the snacks and food. Also, no offense intended to anyone, but I've noticed that people who just zone out to television as compared to active computer users/gamers tend to be a bit...dumber.

    Yes yes, I know, a generalization...but in my experience, it's the truth.

    • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sarten-X (1102295) on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @10:48AM (#31426022) Homepage

      Personally, I've noticed the same thing, and I think it's because of the interaction. A television simply feeds you information, and you accept it. That makes you quite adept at just accepting information. In contract, a computer, even used for only playing games, requires some critical thought to decide what to do next.

      • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @11:30AM (#31426606)

        Brain activity does burn some calories. Perhaps not much, but it's still doing it. And TV watching does require less thinking.

        A quick googling offered this [google.com] as a starting point.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        It might be simpler than that. Watching TV your hands are free to shovel food into your mouth. Using the computer, at least one hand is busy. (I was thinking of the mouse, you perv!)
      • Re:Interesting (Score:4, Insightful)

        by mcgrew (92797) * on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @01:17PM (#31428032) Homepage Journal

        A television simply feeds you information, and you accept it.

        So do books, but books don't make you fat.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Sadly, nothing backs you up. You might want to think about your personal bias.

      It also helps to learn to slaughter sacred cows.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by beh (4759) *

      That coming from a computer user - I bet, most people zoning out in front of the TV will object to your analysis... ...likely even claim, that zoning out in front of the TV teaches you more than zoning out in front of World of Warcraft... ;-)

      Neither would automatically be right, but it's just the reflex action assuming it's the other side who is the more stupid one.

      • by Pojut (1027544)

        likely even claim, that zoning out in front of the TV teaches you more than zoning out in front of World of Warcraft... ;-)

        Not if I'm streaming documentaries through Netflix on my secondary monitor while grinding ;-)

    • by gad_zuki! (70830)

      >Yes yes, I know, a generalization...but in my experience, it's the truth.

      Err, its still a generalization with nothing to back it up. I'm not one typically to defend TV, but I can imagine a credible opposite to your argument.

      When I watch TV, I'm either watching comedies or watching something that is teaching me something. With comedies, I'm often laughing or commenting on the show to the person next to me. During the other shows I would feel intellectually stimulated, pause it, maybe do a related web se

      • by Richy_T (111409)

        When I watch TV, I watch TV and I hate when someone talks over plot points or action or the humor. I think DVRs have saved me from a murder charge or two.

    • by JWSmythe (446288)

      I strongly suspect that the dumber part would apply to what the subject was watching. Sure, an American Idol marathon followed by countless hours of ... well, a vast array of mindless television designed to fill the airwaves slightly better than a test pattern, could dumb the subject down just below the IQ of a rock (my apologies to the rocks for the implied insult).

      Some shows are educational, either in their direct education value (documentaries) or through making you think

  • by operagost (62405) on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @10:46AM (#31425984) Homepage Journal
    Abuse of apostrophe's make baby Je'su's cry.
    • I did have a lot of fun figuring out how to pronounce Je'su's, assuming the apostrophes denote full glottal stops: Hay-Sue-S. The final stop+sibilant sounds neat. Thanks!
    • by rrohbeck (944847) on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @01:55PM (#31428486)

      You forgot two: "Abu'se" and "apo'strope's".
      As somebody else mentioned some time ago, an apostrophe means "Caution, S ahead!"
      After all, an S is difficult to navigate as we all know, and it's easy to fly off the track.

  • "Active"? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IBBoard (1128019) on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @10:48AM (#31426012) Homepage

    One theory is that it's common to have a snack in front of the TV, while a computer requires a more active user, for example when chatting or playing games.

    Yeah, because sitting there and typing or moving the mouse is huge amounts of activity! I can eat a bag of M&Ms and drink coke while coding, and I'm sure there are plenty who can scoff pizza, coke and crisps without a problem!

    You've got to lick your fingers well to make sure that you don't leave a mess on your keyboard, but other than that the computer "activity" isn't that much of an obstacle for eating.

    • I can eat a bag of M&Ms and drink coke while coding, and I'm sure there are plenty who can scoff pizza, coke and crisps without a problem!

      You've got to lick your fingers well to make sure that you don't leave a mess on your keyboard, but other than that the computer "activity" isn't that much of an obstacle for eating.

      That may be true while coding, but if you're playing an online game, taking your hands off the keyboard for even a few second means you could lose*. In my experience, most people don't li

    • Re:"Active"? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Vanderhoth (1582661) on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @11:05AM (#31426248)

      I could see Computers have having three distinct benefits over TV.

      1) Moving the mouse and typing is more active then moving your thumb to change channels

      2) Playing video games is more physically involved then watching TV. I care about how my character does so my body reacts in a similar manner as though I were getting exercise; heart racing, mild sweating, muscles tightening, etc... Albeit this isn't on the same level as if I were outside playing ball, but I still get a bit more of a workout then if I was watching something mildly or not particularly interesting on TV.

      3) When I am eating or drinking while playing video games; I see computer interaction more engaging and thus kind of like putting down your fork between bites during a meal. You eat slower and digest what's eaten better. When watching TV it's easy to have one hand on the remote while the other is in a bag of chips or popcorn.

      Of course this is my own opinion and based on my own experiences. I've only heard that putting your fork down between bites is good for loosing weight, I don't have a reference.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Fozzyuw (950608)

      You've got to lick your fingers well to make sure that you don't leave a mess on your keyboard, but other than that the computer "activity" isn't that much of an obstacle for eating.

      Which is exactly why most coders don't eat and code at the same time. Yes, some do, but most have learned it's just not worth it for obvious reasons.

      And I can agree that gaming on a PC does make one think less of food and eat less. I found myself eating less playing games than even not playing games.

    • Re:"Active"? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by natehoy (1608657) on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @11:12AM (#31426350) Journal

      Yeah, but not to the extent that TV allows.

      I'm nibbling on a snack right now, but I don't feel the "need" to eat all the time in front of a computer, because most of the time my hands are busy typing.

      When I watched commercial TV, I tended to feel like I had to have something to do, and the TV stations set up time every (what is it now, ten minutes) where I can go get food. I'd graze almost constantly, because my hands were free. When I surf the Web, I will occasionally snack, but not nearly as often. Oddly enough, I still have a small snack in the evening around 8PM, which used to be the "sit down in front of the TV" time, and I think that snack is a carryover from that. But the snack is a lot smaller than it was when we had a TV (and I still watch recorded shows on the computer, but I keep my hands busy with my smartphone instead of food).

      If commercials didn't exist, or were only run between shows rather than every few minutes, I don't think we'd eat as much either. Commercial break comes on, we go off and put together some food. Break is only 2-3 minutes long (or is it still that short?) so you can't really prepare anything even vaguely healthy. You go for prepared comfort foods that can be eaten easily.

      I realize this is one person's anecdote, and this may only apply to me, but I strongly suspect that several important factors differentiate TV from computers,
        - TV is an almost completely passive activity, whereas the computer engages you and distracts you from thoughts of food.
        - With TV, your hands are completely or almost completely free so you can easily stuff food continuously, with a computer you might reach out to grab a handful of snack every few minutes.
        - Good-looking foods are shown to you every ten minutes or so on the TV, with enforced breaks to allow you the opportunity to get food. On a computer, you largely set your own breaks and people tend to get up less to get food. And when they do, there's no absolute rush to get back and beat the commercials so you might even get healthier foods.

      If computing could be done while leaving the hands and mouth completely free, I'd suspect people would start munching more.

      I'm not saying that everyone who watches TV is constantly stuffing their maw with junk food, or that computer users constantly starve themselves, but I think the differences between the activities can lead to very different eating behaviors.

      And don't dismiss the calories burned by typing. :)

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Bah, keyboards are cheap. For 5 bucks I can get a new one. Probably less time and effort then trying to keep this one clean~

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      If nothing else - it slows down your eating.

      Eating too fast is one of top reasons Obesity occurs. Your stomach takes a while to send the "I'm full" signal to your brain. Something like 8 minutes, I think. So when you slam down a bunch of food and then think "I'm full" you end up over-eating, more than your stomach can handle. So your body turns it to fat.

    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      But when you code, you don't have a voice suddenly shouting "hmmmmm, I would like some veeeery fat and cheesy pizza! Yummy !"
    • ! I can eat a bag of M&Ms and drink coke while coding

      Do you believe that is what most kids are doing in front of their computer?

      How well do you do circle-strafing in a FPS with opponents trying to kill you while snacking? What does your char do while you are going to get that snack?

      The premise seems reasonable. A child playing a game is both more involved (distracted from snacking), and less able (hands are busy), as a generality, than one on a couch watching TV.

    • by Aladrin (926209)

      "can", yes. But do most people do so?

      I only eat breakfast in front of my computer. However, when I'm watching TV, I almost always have something to eat either in my hand or nearby.

    • While coding, or typing , or chatting MOST of the time your finger are occupied and your brain is in active mode. While watching TV, usually the finger are doing NOTHING and the brain is IMHO in a more "sleepy" mode. The fact that the finger do nothing, for some people finger have always to be doing something, and so the grasping of the snake will be happening much more often than while you type.
    • by sorak (246725)

      It probably depends on what you use the computer for. If it's a child's room, it will probably be used for first person shooters and pornography. It's hard to eat pizza while engaging in either one of those.

  • by DontBlameCanada (1325547) on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @10:51AM (#31426052)

    "Gaming your way to weightloss!"

    It works, I swear! I remember one particular weekend where I lost 5lbs working through raid encounters in Everquest 1. Who needs food when lewt is raining from the sky!

  • thinking calories (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Speare (84249) on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @10:54AM (#31426092) Homepage Journal

    While shoving a mouse around and typing does not seem like significant exercise, I think there's a bigger energy expenditure in interactive thought. Zoning out at the television does not engage many areas of the brain, but chatting with friends or deciding where to browse next takes a bit more power. Brain activity burns calories. I've personally noticed that my head warms up more when I'm thinking, especially if the work or play is cerebral or there's a time pressure involved. It would be very cool to see a study on just how different these tasks are, with brain activity monitored objectively.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by somersault (912633)

      I've personally noticed that my head warms up more when I'm thinking

      Moss, is that you?

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mD95BLpEUcE [youtube.com]

    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      The 4th comment here is interesting :
      http://www.physicsforums.com/archive/index.php/t-42053.html [physicsforums.com]

      Here is some information about the body consumption (in kcal) for many activities :
      Sleeping 70
      Lying quietly 80
      Sitting 100
      Standing at ease 110
      Conversation 110
      Strolling 140
      Driving a car 140
      Playing violin or piano 140
      Hiking, 4 mph 350 407
      Swimming 500 582
      Long-distance running 900
      Sprinting 1400

      So if we say piano requires the same amount of energy as coding (I would say it requires less mental effor
  • by spacepimp (664856) on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @10:56AM (#31426110) Homepage
    All the free porn is on the internet, that is a calorie burn when done properly.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by danbert8 (1024253)

      That's my diet plan. And I'm 5'9" and 120 lbs. It must work! Maybe I should convince girls to join me?

    • That might be part of the second study.

      The one which tests the effect on adults.
  • by 2obvious4u (871996) on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @10:56AM (#31426122)
    I found that I get caught up in the computer and what I'm working on and forget to stop and eat. When I get really focused on my work I'll forget to stop and eat and when I'm playing a new game I may only eat once a day for the first weekend.
  • by CyberSlugGump (609485) on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @11:03AM (#31426234)
    How many ads for fast food, soft drinks, candy bar, restaurants, etc. do you see during an hour of watching TV versus during an hour of using the computer? Food cues might play a strong role, too.
    • by natehoy (1608657)

      Not to mention opportunity. Start a commercial break with a picture some luscious food item, and your audience will use the rest of the commercial break checking out the fridge to see what is available to eat during the next ten minutes of programming. At the end of the commercial break, they will grab whatever is the most prepared and easiest to eat in front of the TV and rush back. Next commercial, repeat.

      That can be as many as 4 snacks per hour (they still only do 4 5-minute breaks an hour, right?).

      If

    • by kuzb (724081)
      It is still that person making a conscious effort to go out, and stuff food in their mouth. Fat kids are a direct result of porking down and being lazy. Attempting to use a television as a scapegoat is just attempting to shift blame. All these people need to do to change things is fix their diet and exercise 30 minutes a day.
  • The real news is that this is not because of lack of exercise, but because of lack of food.

  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland @ y a hoo.com> on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @11:08AM (#31426280) Homepage Journal

    Previous studies showed that the TV made no difference at all. Kids who weren't active in the house, where no more active when they went outside.

    The studies I have read based on TV obesity all showed that TV was not the cause, but just something people who were inactive happened to do.
    Why the child was inactive turns out to be a number of other reasons. depression, stress, bad house hold habits. and so on.

    What TV does seem to do is make people think they need to eat, vie food commercials.

    Sadly, there are surprisingly few good* studies that try to tease apart the variables in TV watching. I would like to read the detail in this study.
    How were the children selected? What where there daily activities before the study? Was the study done at a time of year that coincide with better weather? How where controls done? was diet monitored?

    The reason given seems a little thin, since eating at the computer is as easy as the TV. OF course, there could be a cultural reason for not eating while on the computer.

    Quite frankly, I would be for the removing of food commercials. It would never happen, but I would wager that after a year the obesity problem would start to slow down, if not stop.

    *lots of bad studies.

    • by actionbastard (1206160) on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @11:49AM (#31426846)
      There is no 'study'. These 'results' are from a survey of primary school children conducted in one municipality by a school nurse. No scientists or researchers were involved. There is no empirical data at all. No experiments were conducted. More than likely the 'study' consists of anecdotal evidence such as; TV in room, check...fat child, check...TV caused fat child.
    • Why the child was inactive turns out to be a number of other reasons. depression, stress, bad house hold habits. and so on.

      Or, you know, the child is just naturally more laid-back than his or her peers. It's not always something bad.

    • by houghi (78078)

      Reminds me of a study that showed that watching TV burned less calories then doing nothing. If you do nothing, you will move around more then watching tv. You move around a lot more.

  • by Sockatume (732728) on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @11:10AM (#31426332)

    directly affected by placing a TV in the child's room

    Immediate mental image: the child's weight changing instantly as the TV comes and goes.

    • by Abstrackt (609015)

      directly affected by placing a TV in the child's room

      Immediate mental image: the child's weight changing instantly as the TV comes and goes.

      It begs two questions: how big does your television have to be to cause a local increase in gravity and where can I buy one?

  • Most TV programmes just aren't that engaging. As a consequence people find other, more interesting, things to do while the TV provides a background. The same cannot be said of video games, which generally don't leave any hands free for stuffing garbage down your neck (and would result in "death" or points-loss for losing concentration if you took time off to try it).

    What would be interesting is whether it's the programmes or the advertisements that make people (and I doubt that it's limited to just childr

    • by natehoy (1608657)

      I think even an exciting TV show would allow for snacking pretty easily. Grab handy foods during the commercials, and not matter how exciting the show your hands and mouth are still free while watching. You have an enforced break (commercial) to get food, and a continuous opportunity to consume it.

      TV and food just go together. You have sufficient facilities free to eat continuously when watching TV (hands, mouth). You do not when on the computer. At best, all your surfing is done with the mouse and you

  • instead of the google translation of a 2 paragraphs-long article ?

  • An interesting way to validate this study would be a lab controlled experiment where people are connected to a calorie consumption monitor while either watching tv (track "entertainment" vs "educational" programming), using a computer (track "working - coding, writing docs, etc." vs "gaming" vs "reading"), or reading (track "news paper" vs "fictional novel").

    Brains use a fair bit of calories thinking and processing information. Should be easy enough to prove (or disprove) that watching TV requires fewer cal

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      I'd like to see what a study including video games would say. Does what you use the television for matter most, or where you sit?

  • ... can make you fat if you do too much of it, moderation and monitoring of what you eat vs the energy you expend is what counts.

    You can lose weight in marathon gaming sessions, I know I've lost a few pounds over weekends with huge long games of Civ4 or Galciv 2.

  • You watch television to turn your brain off
    and you work on your computer
    when you want to turn your brain on.
    (Steve Jobs, Macworld, Feb 2004)

  • You are busy fragging with both hands ?

  • The TV fosters passivity. Cattle mentality.
    The Internet is more for active people. Not necessarily with the body (apart from porn), but with the brain. It supports active participation. Look at how it already changed government and the media. People stop being cattle because of it.

    Also, if you have ever played Q3 CPMA or Richard Burns Rally (on a force feedback wheel) for a couple of hours, you’ll know that you get hot and sweat like a pig from the stress. (The heat is proof for the burning of energy.

  • On a computer the hands are kept busy, typing mashing buttons whatever, watching TV hands are idle, perhaps flipping channels on a remote. Seems there may be a direct link between keeping ones hands occupied by typing/button mashing vs. idle where it's easier to stuff ones face due to having nothing to do.
    • by Sperbels (1008585)

      On a computer the hands are kept busy, typing mashing buttons whatever, watching TV hands are idle, perhaps flipping channels on a remote. Seems there may be a direct link between keeping ones hands occupied by typing/button mashing vs. idle where it's easier to stuff ones face due to having nothing to do.

      Which means there's a market for a hands free computer interface so that one may stuff ones face while operating a computer!

  • Article on TV making kids fat. Check. See you in six months.

    OK, what's next... cell phone cancer? No, too soon. Video game violence? Not quite yet.

    How about one where creationism believing fat kids using cell phones under power lines can get cancer unless they use Linux and stop global warming using stimulus money for stem cell research?

    Ooo! How about a good "Amerkinz am teh stoopids" study based on a phone survey?

  • ...is not causation.

  • Hell, I almost starved to death when I got Diablo II.
  • it depends on how many times you lift them.

  • There is some scientific disagreement over the nature of fat accumulation (consider Gary Taubes landmark book Good Calories, Bad Calories), and I would think that this plays an important role in how the culture views the qualities of various foods. Furthermore, as has been mentioned in other posts, TV ads are designed to affect those who watch them. It is non-trivial to resist the sophisticated suggestions (see Boris Sidis' The Psychology of Suggestion 1898) that vulnerable people encounter in broadcast med
  • It seems most people who are serious about PC gaming are average weight to slender. I've seen this on mosaics of pictures people posted on gaming forums, also pictures of game mappers, and also at places like QuakeCon (where Quake 3 tends to be the core game featured every year) year after year. Of course these people tend to have some competitive spirit so that might have something to do with it. Even the people I know who play WoW, most are average weight. There is the occasional fatty here and there, but

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