Boob Tube And Food
Multitasking is the only way to survive the 21st century, it seems. But eating dinner while watching TV is not a new thing. We even have specially packaged meals with all the sodium and preservatives you'd want that are meant to be eaten while watching TV called "TV Dinners."
A new study done by the New York's Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for WIC (Women, Infant, and Children) studied the dining habits of over 1,300 families. Children and parents were surveyed on how often a family ate together, how often the TV was on at the time, and how often fruits and vegetables were offered during family meals.
There's a mountain of studies already showing strong correlations between the number of hours children watch TV and how fat they are, and it's been shown that families that eat together have better diets.
Overall, the more often a family ate together, the more often a child was offered fruits and vegetables. Those opportunities to eat healthy foods plummeted each night that the TV was on during dinner.
Why is that? Dr. Barbara Dennison, director of the Bureau of Health Risk Reduction for New York's Department of Health belives that when the "boob tube" is on, there's less focus on the food kids are stuffing their faces with. "In terms of the childhood obesity epidemic in this country, part of what contributes is not just how TV takes away from physical activity, but it's distracting, and you don't know how much you're eating. It's a double whammy."
This same study also found some other very interesting facts:
* Hispanic and black parents reported having the TV on more often that white parents
* Hispanic and white families tend to eat together more often than black families
* The television was on more often in a household where the head of household had less than a high school education
It's a very eye-opening study for sure, but one thing to note is that the study interviewed participants in the WIC program, which means they are receiving assistance getting their groceries. Eating healthy is NOT cheap. These households have to make their dollars and WIC assistance stretch as far as possible, so they choose cheaper but more refined foods to feed their kids. I mean, if you have mouths to feed at home, which would you have to choose: three-fourths of an apple or a 99-cent bag of 32 pizza rolls?
However, the study does make it clear that watching TV does negate the healthiness of a family eating together.
I have a theory too. Since watching TV turns kids' brains to mush, hence surpressing their attention to what they're eating and also subdues those biological sensations that tell them they're full...why not put a bunch of fruits and vegetables in front of them while the boob tube is on? There ya go - a win-win.
If your kid overdoses on grapes, what the worse that can happen? Massive diarrhea? Who cares. I've never heard of a kid getting fat from grapes.