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Apr 14, 2014 11:36 AM EDT

Television Viewing Linked To Shorter Sleep Duration In Young Children

Children Watching TV
(Photo : Flickr) New research suggests that children watching as little as one hour of television a day can increase the risk of childhood obesity.

Increased television viewing may lead to shorter sleep duration, according to a recent study The State Column reported.

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Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital for Children and the Harvard School of Public Health found a small but consistent association between increased television viewing and shorter sleep duration. They also found that the presence of a television in the room where a child sleeps also was associated with less sleep.

The study, which will be published in the May issue of Pediatrics, is the first to examine the connection between television an sleep duration over several years.

For the study, researchers collected data from more than 1,800 children between the ages of 6 months and 8 years old. They analyzed information -- reported by mothers when the children were around 6 months old and then annually for the next seven years --   regarding how much time each day infants were in a room where television was on, how much time older children watched television daily, whether children ages 4 to 7 slept in a room where a TV was present and their child's average daily amount of sleep.

Based on the findings, each additional hour of television viewing was associated with 7 fewer minutes of sleep daily, with the effects appearing to be stronger in boys than in girls. They also found that children of color were much more likely to sleep in a room where a television was present, and among those children, the presence of a bedroom television reduced average sleep around a half-hour per day.

The findings support previous studies conducted on the link between TV viewing in children and sleep interruption, The State Column reported.  

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According to the University of Michigan Health System, television watching among kids is at an eight-year high. On average, children between the ages of 2 and 5 spend 32 hours a week in front of a TV, while kids between the ages of 6 and 11 spend approximately 28 hours a week in front of the TV.

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