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Medicine Television

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

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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  • 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.

  • by geekoid ( 135745 ) <`dadinportland' `at' `'> 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.

  • 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. :)

  • Re:Interesting (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ltap ( 1572175 ) on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @11:26AM (#31426562) Homepage
    You'd be surprised. Also, on the internet, there is still some thinking required - people navigate to pages by choice. Television would be akin to the browser opening tabs of its own accord. As passive as random browsing is, there's still some decision-making with choosing what links to click on, whereas television simply bombards you with information.
  • 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 [] as a starting point.

  • simple really... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @12:02PM (#31427058)

    computer = active mind
    television = vegetative state

  • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @02:05PM (#31428616) Journal

    Well, let us take where you are for example. Sure we here on /. just like IRL have to deal with lamers, and trolls, and lamers that think they are trolls (Note: just saying nigger or Jew is NOT a troll, except maybe on Halo) but we can also have some pretty heavy discussions on a wide range of topics. I have personally had discussions go 10 to 12 posts deep as I debated the advantages or disadvantages of something like OSes or DRM. To have a debate go on that long both you and the one you are debating have to be making decent points worthy of debate, or else you wouldn't feel the need to respond.

    So I would say due to the comment sections now prevalent on most sites one can get into some very interesting debates and that takes a lot more brains than just vegging in front of the tube.I also think ultimately PCs are better for kids than TVs as just like /. gives us geeks and Greybeards a place to talk about subject which interest us, so does various groups and boards give the kids a chance to learn and discuss subjects that interest them. For examples my oldest is into medicine and theology, and is talking to many at the local college through their discussion boards about their experiences with various classes, while my youngest is into graphic art and will hang out on boards discussing graphics and artwork and learning about various tools (right now he is learning Inkscape) so I would say that each of them having a PC and using it to explore their interests is better than them just sitting on their butts and watching MTV Cribs.

    So for the TLDR types, PCs are better as they allow you to explore your interests and get into discussions, whereas TVs simply feed you mass marketed entertainment.

  • Re:Interesting (Score:3, Interesting)

    by omris ( 1211900 ) on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @06:23PM (#31431962)

    I suspect that that may be some part of it, but I would guess that a larger part of it is ads. []

    Apparently, there is also no correlation to weight gain and watching TV if you are watching DVDs or movies. The correlation does not exist between TV and being fat, only TV with ads. Similarly, playing on a computer has minimal ads, like watching a DVD, and shockingly, neither activity relates to obesity.

    Also, typing one handed is useful for more than just fapping... Also good for holding your booze, a smoke, and a shovel for food.

UNIX is many things to many people, but it's never been everything to anybody.