If a child is eating food in front of a television set or while playing video games he may be at risk for health problems later in life, according to a study done by physicians at St. Michael’s Hospital, a teaching hospital and medical center in Canada.
Poor eating behavior defined as eating junk food, skipping meals, eating while playing video games, and kids having the ability to decide when they want to eat can cause them to develop cardiovascular disease. Nav Persaud, a family physician, led the study and found that bad cholesterol for children ages 3 to 5 was linked to poor eating habits. “We know that eating behaviours are an important determinant of health in adults and adolescents, but this is the first time pre-school age children have been looked at to see if their eating habits are affecting their health as well,” says Mr Persaud.
The study looked at 1,000 preschoolers eating behaviors by asking their parents to fill out questions pertaining to their child’s eating behavior. The children were enlisted through TARGet Kids!, a research partnership between St. Michael’s Hospital, the Hospital for Sick Children, and the University of Toronto that hopes to better understand kids nutritional ailments and their future impact on that child.
Researchers looked at key factors such as height, weight, and lipid profile in their blood – bad, good cholesterol. Race was also taken into consideration since different races are more prone to certain heart diseases.
The study found that children who are playing video games or watching TV while eating are not aware of their bodies cues that tell them “I’m full” instead they continue eating.
“Discovering this link early in life is important because the behaviour is still largely changeable, it gives us an opportunity to prevent disease and screen for behavioural interventions.” says Mr Persaud.