TV Time Replaces Fruit & Vegetables

Medical Author: Frederick Hecht, M.D.
Medical Editor: Barbara K. Hecht, Ph.D.

Dec. 9, 2003 -- As the hours in front of the TV go up, the intake of fruit and vegetables go down for kids, according to a new research study published in the journal Pediatrics.

The study was done by Renee Boynton-Jarrett and her colleagues at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston. The following is a summary of the research and is based on the original report in Pediatrics.

Background to Study: National data indicate that children and youth in the US do not meet the current objectives for fruit and vegetable intake. Television viewing is hypothesized as a possible contributing factor because of its role in encouraging the consumption of foods that may lead to the replacement of fruits and vegetables.

Methods & Results: A sample of 548 ethnically diverse students (average age: 11.7 years) from public schools in Massachusetts were studied over a 19-month period. The relationship was studied between the hours of television and video viewing per day and the intake of fruits and vegetables. For each additional hour of television viewed per day, fruit and vegetable servings per day decreased by 14%.

Conclusions of Study: "Television viewing is inversely associated with intake of fruit and vegetables among adolescents. These associations may be a result of the replacement of fruits and vegetables in youths' diets by foods highly advertised on television."