Gable S, Chang Y, Krull JL Television watching and frequency of family meals are predictive of overweight onset and persistence in a national sample of school-aged children. J Am Diet Assoc. 2007 Jan;107(1):53-61. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2006.10.010. (Original study)

OBJECTIVE: To identify eating and activity factors associated with school-aged children's onset of overweight and persistent overweight.

DESIGN: Data were gathered at four time points between kindergarten entry and spring of third grade. Children were directly weighed and measured and categorized as not overweight (<95th percentile of body mass index) or overweight (> or =95th percentile body mass index); parents were interviewed by telephone or in person.

SUBJECTS/SETTING: Subjects were participants in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort, a nationally representative sample of children who entered kindergarten during 1998-1999. Children who weighed <2,000 g at birth, received therapeutic services before kindergarten, skipped or repeated a grade, or without complete height and weight data were excluded, resulting in 8,459 participants. Children with intermittent overweight were not examined (n=459); analyses addressed 8,000 children.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Three mutually exclusive groups of children were identified: never overweight, overweight onset, and persistent overweight.

STATISTICAL ANALYSES PERFORMED: Multilevel, multivariate logistic regression analyses estimated the effects of eating and activity factors on the odds of overweight onset and persistent overweight above child sex, race, and family socioeconomic status.

RESULTS: Children who watched more television (odds ratio [OR] 1.02) and ate fewer family meals (OR 1.08) were more likely to be overweight for the first time at spring semester of third grade. Children who watched more television (OR 1.03), ate fewer family meals (OR 1.08), and lived in neighborhoods perceived by parents as less safe for outdoor play (OR 1.32) were more likely to be persistently overweight. Child aerobic exercise and opportunities for activity were not associated with a greater likelihood of weight problems.

CONCLUSIONS: This study supports theories regarding the contributions of television watching, family meals, and neighborhood safety to childhood weight status. When working with families to prevent and treat childhood weight problems, food and nutrition professionals should attend to children's time spent with screen media, the frequency of family mealtimes, and parents' perceptions of neighborhood safety for children's outdoor play.

Discipline Area Score
Nurse 6 / 7
Comments from MORE raters

Nurse rater

This article will be useful for practitioners in education of parents and clients on the role of family meals and the potential impact they can have on reducing the incidence of childhood obesity. This advantage can be promoted alonside the benefits family meals have on social development of children, which is the more commonly discussed outcome of this practice in NZ.

Nurse rater

Much of this is common sense; if a kid sits in front of the television, he isn`t playing outside and getting exercise and will be heavier. The family demographics weighted down the article and didn`t add a lot to the meat of the subject. Family meals correlation was interesting.

Nurse rater

Good for background on the subject. In U.K., school nurses work with children in primary and secondary prevention with obesity. Aspect of health promotion and acknowledgement of current work in U.K. was not reflected in this article, therefore its use is limited.
Comments from OBESITY+ subscribers

No subscriber has commented on this article yet.