Wed Nov 22, 2017 | 20:24
Watching too much TV harms kid's heart
Wed, 20 Apr 2011 12:35:51 GMT
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Children as young as six who watch too much TV are at a higher risk of developing heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes later on in life.

Sydney University researchers found that children as young as six or seven who spend most of their time watching TV have narrower arteries at the back of their eyes than those who regularly participate in outdoor activities.

Doctors consider narrowing of the retinal arterioles, the tiny arteries at the back of the eye, as a barometer of what's happening elsewhere in the body. The condition may be a sign of conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes in the individual.

The study showed that on average children spend almost two hours a day in front of TV or computer screen. They, on the other hand, dedicate just 36 minutes to physical activity.

According to the results published in the American Heart Association journal Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, each additional hour of watching television causes an average 1.53 thousandth of millimeter narrowing of the retinal arteriolar diameter.

This is also associated with similar health risks as a 10mmHG increase in systolic blood pressure, the study found.

On the contrary, children with the highest level of activity, more than an hour or so per day, had significantly wider retinal arteries.

“We found children with a high level of physical activity had a more beneficial microvascular profile compared to those with the lowest levels of physical activity,” said lead author Bamini Gopinath.

“We find that the changes to the arteries are quite representative of what's going on in the rest of the body,” Gopinath added. “So the fact these changes are taking place in kids so young is very alarming.”

“Parents need to get their children up and moving and off the couch," he emphasized, adding that, “Replacing one hour a day of screen time with physical activity could be effective in buffering the effects of sedentary lifestyles on the retinal microvasculature in children.”

“Free play should be promoted and schools should have a mandatory two hours a week in physical activity for children,” Gopinath further suggested.

SJM/PKH
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