REFERENCE: Armstrong, C. A., Sallis. J. F., Alcaraz, J. E., Kolody, B., McKenzie, T. L., Hovell, M. F. (1998). Children's television viewing, body fat, and physical fitness. American Journal of Health Promotion, 12, 363-368.

Purpose. The study examines the relationship between children's television (TV) viewing and physical fitness.

Design. Cross-sectional data from questionnaires and objective measures were analyzed.

Setting. Data were collected during the fall of 1990 from public elementary school students in a suburban California city.

Subjects. Approximately 98% of eligible students participated. Of these, 10% were dropped due to missing data, yielding a final sample of 284 girls and 304 boys.

Measures. Children reported their amount of TV viewing on a typical summer day; parents reported their child's TV viewing on a typical weekday during the school year. Cardiovascular fitness was the 1-mile run/walk. Body fat was both the child's body mass index (BMI) and skinfolds. Additional measures included muscular strength/endurance and flexibility.

Results. Mile run/walk times were associated with both parental (n2 = .051 and .031 for boys and girls, respectively) and child reports (n2 = .020 and .028) of the child's amount of TV viewing. Parental reports, but not child reports, of the child's TV viewing were related to BMI (n2 = .041 and .058) and skinfolds (n2 = .050 and .029). Neither measure of children's TV viewing was related to muscular strength/endurance and flexibility.

Conclusions. Children's TV viewing seems to be weakly and inconsistently related to various components of physical fitness. However, given the tracking of cardiovascular disease risk factors from childhood into adulthood and the high proportion of children who watch television, these relationships are worthy of further study.


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