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Childhood obesity in Portuguese children

Children who spend more time in front of the television have a higher risk of obesity and high blood pressure, than those who spend more time at the computer and with electronic games. These are the conclusions of a study coordinated by Cristina Padez from the University of Coimbra and funded by the FCT.

Focusing on the relationship between the environment in which children live and overweight, the results indicate that of the 18,000 children aged 3 to 11 years involved in the study, 28% of boys and 26% of girls watch more than 2 hours of television per day during the week, and on weekends the figures shoot up to 75% and 74% respectively. These figures are well above the limits considered to be a reference and are risk factors for obesity.

Alerts the researcher that "60% of obese children already have at least one risk factor such as hypertension, high cholesterol, triglycerides and 40% remain obese in adulthood. Even for children who normalize their weight as they grow, the mere fact that they have been obese is a risk for the onset of some cardiovascular diseases in adulthood."

Compared to electronic games and the computer, television has a greater impact because "children are more exposed to food advertising, inducing them to eat food that is usually unhealthy. Television is more passive, the computer and electronic games require more concentration and interaction.