The Role of Friends in Childhood Obesity
According to a study in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, time spend with friends may play an important role in the relationship between obesity and TV watching. The researchers conclude that more obese teenagers spend less time with their friends, which in turn leads to lower physical activity and more watching TV alone.
- Teens who spend a lot of time with friends are more physically active and spend less time watching TV alone.
- Teens who are overweight or obese spend less time with their friends and more time watching TV alone.
- For childhood obesity prevention campaign developers it is important to know that they should focus less on reducing screen time, and pay more attention on the influence of peers and friendships.
Do time spend with friends and physical activity play a role in the relation between overweight/obesity and TV watching in teens?
1,545 10- to 18 year-olds (mean age: 14 years; 49% were boys; 46% were Caucasian, 43% African-American, and 7% Hispanic or Latino)
This study used data from the Child Development Supplement (CDS) to the Panel of Study Income Dynamics (PSID). The PSID has been collecting data since 1968 on the social and economic capital within families. In 2002 additional data focusing on family and child development was collected. Teens recorded their activities (e.g., watching TV, time spent with friends, and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity) for 24 hours on one randomly chosen weekday and weekend day beginning at midnight. In addition, the teens were measured and weighted at their home.
Facts and findings
- Teens who spent more time with friends:
- were more physically active;
- spent less time watching TV alone.
- Teens who were overweight or obese spent:
- less time with friends;
- more time watching TV without friends.
- Teens who were physically active spent less time watching TV alone.
- Overweight and obesity were not directly related to physical activity.
- The researchers concluded that overweight and obese children spent less time with their friends, which in turn led to lowered physical activity and more watching TV without friends.
- Critical note: The study does not allow for any conclusions about cause (time spent with friends and physical activity) and effect (link between obesity and TV watching).The results only show that time spent with friends and physical activity play a role in the relation between obesity and TV watching.