Characteristics associated with older adolescents who have a television in their bedrooms

Adolescents spend a lot of time watching television1 and heavy TV use has been associated with negative behavior and physical outcomes, such as poor school performance2, poor dietary habits with low consumption of fruit and vegetable (F&V),3high fat intake4, and greater BMI5. The objective of the authors was to study, in adolescents, relationships between having a television in their bedroom and personal, social and behavioral characteristics6.

Project Eating Among Teens (EAT) II

This project is a follow-up of Project EAT-I with the purpose to examine determinants of dietary intake and weight status of adolescents in Minnesota. For the current analyses, 781 adolescents were included (54.7% of girls) with a mean age of 17.2 +/- 0.62 years.

Adolescents completed several questionnaires and reported:

  • the presence of a TV in their bedroom,
  • their physical activity,
  • their sedentary behaviors : time spent watching TV, reading and doing homework, using a computer,
  • their eating behaviors: F&V, sweetened beverage, fast food intakes; number of family meals; and snacking while watching TV,
    other personal factors: age, socio-economic status (SES), body mass index (BMI), grade point average, family connectiveness and depressive symptoms.

Having a bedroom TV is associated with unhealthy behaviors

  • 62% of participants had a TV in their bedroom and the presence of a TV bedroom was more prevalent among boys, low SES households and black youths. The presence of a bedroom TV was less prevalent in Asian youths.
  • Having a bedroom TV was strongly associated with time spent watching TV. Compared to girls without bedroom TV, girls with a TV in their bedroom:
  • had lower physical activity,
  • spent more time watching TV,
  • reported lower vegetable consumption,
  • reported higher sweetened beverage intake,had fewer family meals.

Compared to boys without bedroom TV, boys with a TV in their bedroom:

  • spent more time watching TV,
  • reported lower fruit consumption,
  • had fewer family meals,
  • reported lower grade point average.

Having a bedroom TV was not associated with the prevalence of snacking while watching TV as well as BMI.

Can we prevent poor dietary behaviors by reducing TV in adolescents’ bedroom

The authors observed that adolescents with a TV in their bedroom reported poor dietary habits (low F&V consumption, high sweetened beverage intake, less family meals) and low physical activity (which is associated with more time watching TV). However, they did not find any association with BMI status (which could be explained by bias in reported weight).

As having a TV in the bedroom is associated with unhealthy behaviors in adolescents, and as adolescents’ behaviors are determinants of future adult behaviors, prevention by reducing bedroom TV could reduce unhealthy behaviors as well as health consequences in adulthood. Further investigations need to study long-term effect of reducing TV behavior.

  1. Roberts D et al. Kaiser Family Foundation 2005.
  2. Hancox RJ et al. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2005;Robinson TN159(7):614-618.
  3. Boynton-Jarrett R et al. Pediatrics 2003;112(6):1321-1326.
  4. Robinson TN & Killen JD. J Health Educ 1995;26(2):S91-S98.
  5. Robinson TN. JAMA 1999;282(16):1561-1567.
  6. Barr-Anderson DJ et al. Pediatrics 2008;121(4):718-24.