15 Jan 2009

Over-watching and under-exercising

6:28 pm on 15 January 2009

New research is warning of health risks if children watch more than two hours of television a day.

Researchers for the New South Wales Centre for Overweight and Obesity have found that children who spend two or more hours a day in front of the television are more likely to be unfit.

Louise Hardy, who led the research, says the findings have important implications for the risk of chronic disease.

She says guidelines recommend that children's sedentary behaviour in front of television or computer screens be limited to two hours a day, but she thinks "no-screen" days would be even better.

Leigh Sturgiss, executive director of New Zealand's Obesity Action Coalition, says guidelines limiting sedentary behaviour would be impossible to enforce but parents should be monitoring children's television use, as well as getting them involved with physical activities outdoors.

NZers watching more TV

Recently released figures from the New Zealand Television Broadcasters Council show the average New Zealander watched three hours and eight minutes of television a day in 2008.

That's almost 9% more than the previous year.

Chief executive Rick Friesen says big sports events, such as the Olympics, boosted viewer numbers, and people are also chosing home entertainment because of financial pressure.

Some of the most popular New Zealand shows last year included Outrageous Fortune and Dancing With The Stars.