Parents, listen up. There's more compelling research suggesting that it's a really good idea to restrict your toddlers' TV watching if you want them to develop healthy eating habits.
You see, the more 3-year-olds watch TV, the more they'll gravitate toward unhealthy foods and drinks and consume more calories. So finds a new study from Harvard Medical School.
In fact, just one more hour in front of the boob tube was associated with one extra sugar-sweetened beverage (including juice) per week; an additional 0.3 serving of fast food per month; and an additional 0.06 serving of red and processed meat per day, the team found, according to Health Day's Alan Mozes.
Kids even consumed an extra 46 calories a day with each additional hour of TV viewing. (This may not seem like a lot of calories, but previous research suggests that the weight gained by American adolescents over the past decade stems from just 150 calories more each day, HealthDay explains.)
If your tots watch more TV, they also tend to shy away more from healthy foods.
Indeed, the Harvard researchers discovered that even one hour more TV viewing is linked to kids decreasing their consumption of healthy foods (a drop in vegetable intake of 0.2 servings per day; a dietary fiber drop of 0.4 grams per day; and a decline in calcium intake of 23.2 milligrams per day).
These findings were supposed to be discussed at an AHA conference in Orlando on Wednesday.
The study author, Sonia A. Miller, an undergraduate at Harvard Medical School, believes that "reducing screen time among young children seems to be important" in preventing the development of poor eating habits and obesity among toddlers.
Miller's team pointed out that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children under age 2 not be exposed to TV at all, while youngsters over the age of 2 be limited to no more than two hours of TV per day.
Sounds like really good advice to me.
Of course, it's also up to parents to set a good example by only keeping healthy foods around the house.
Thanks to my research assistant Jennifer Moore for alerting me to this study.