TV Ups Kids' BP

By Sarah Toland

The school bully may not be the only reason Junior’s blood is boiling. New research from Michigan State University shows that children who watch protracted amounts of TV have higher blood pressure than those who don’t, regardless of individual body weight. Researchers tracked the physical activity and sedentary behavior—including TV viewing and computer use—of 111 children, ages 3 to 8, for four years. They found that those who spent the most time in front of a screen, and especially the TV, had higher systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings than those who spent comparable amounts of time engaged in screen-free sedentary activities. Study authors believe TV may be more harmful to children than other inactive pursuits like painting and reading, because the tube includes stressful programming, can interfere with sleep, may lower metabolism, and often triggers unhealthy snacking.