Television watching is the lifestyle habit most strongly associated with obesity in children

Television watching is the lifestyle habit most strongly associated with obesity in children

News from ISGlobal

A team led by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) has carried out a study to identify lifestyle habits that influence the risk of overweight and obesity in children. Of the behaviours analysed in the study, television watching had the strongest association with overweight and obesity.

The study, published in the journal Pediatric Obesity, was based on data from 1,480 children from Sabadell, Gipuzkoa and Valencia enrolled in the birth cohort of the INMA Environment and Childhood Project, a Spanish research network that studies the role of pollutants during pregnancy and their effects on children. The researchers analysed five lifestyle habits: physical activity, sleep time, television time, plant-based food consumption and ultra-processed food consumption. Parents were asked to complete various questionnaires on the children’s lifestyle habits at four years of age. To calculate the health impact of these habits, the researchers measured the children’s body mass index (BMI), waist circumference and blood pressure at four and seven years of age.

"Most research to date has focused on the impact of individual lifestyle behaviours rather than cumulative effects", commented Martine Vrijheid, co-leader of the study and researcher in the ISGlobal Programme on Childhood & Environment. "However, it is well known that unhealthy behaviours tend to overlap and interrelate. Our aim in this study was to examine the whole set of lifestyle behaviours with a view to facilitating the development of interventions capable of targeting the determinants of obesity from a broader perspective".


Rowaedh A. Bawaked, Sílvia Fernández-Barrés, Eva Maria Navarrete-Muñoz et al. Impact of lifestyle behaviors in early childhood on obesity and cardiometabolic risk in children: Results from the Spanish INMA Birth Cohort Study. Pediatric Obesity. December 2019.

More information:
ISGlobal website