Researcher criticizes role of televisions in restaurants

(RxWiki News) For decades now, watching lots of television has been linked to rising obesity rates. And now a researcher at the University of Minnesota is criticizing the device's increasing presence in restaurants.

The evidence linking abundant TV-watching with unhealthy body weight is inextricable.

A 2010 study appearing in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition found a national sample of adolescents indicated that 64 percent of 11- to 18-year-olds had the TV on during meals and that school-aged children who spend extended hours in front of the television tend to be obese or overweight.

A 2003 study found among 50,000 women aged 30 to 55, a woman's odds of obesity rose 23 percent and her risk of type 2 diabetes rose 14 percent for every additional two hours of television time she logged.

David Burley, an assistant professor of sociology at Southeastern Louisiana University, said the ill-health effects of too much TV time extends beyond obesity issues. Family meal times, he said, provide children with social skills such as learning how to share conversation time and listening.

While restaurant food often leaves much to be nutritionally desired, Burley said, familial interactions during this time help make up for that deficit, which is why he is confronting an increasing trend head-on and challenging eating establishments to turn off televisions in dining areas.

Studies show that eating while watching TV increases consumption and the rate at which we eat. Burley said people tend to eat more slowly and less in quantity when they are not watching TV at the same time.

He said turning off television sets during meal time "gets closer to what we all claim our values to be."

Review Date: 
January 31, 2011