Background: Television viewing is associated with childhood obesity. Eating during viewing and eating highly advertised foods are 2 of the hypothesized mechanisms through which television is thought to affect children's weight.
Objectives: Our objectives were to describe the amounts and types of foods that children consume while watching television, compare those types with the types consumed at other times of the day, and examine the associations between children's body mass index (BMI) and the amounts and types of foods consumed during television viewing.
Design: Data were collected from 2 samples. The first sample consisted of ethnically diverse third-grade children, and the second consisted predominantly of Latino fifth-grade children. Three nonconsecutive 24-h dietary recalls were collected from each child. For each eating episode reported, children were asked whether they had been watching television. Height and weight were measured by using standard methods and were used to calculate BMI.
Results: On weekdays and weekend days, 17-18% and approximately 26% of total daily energy, respectively, were consumed during television viewing in the 2 samples. Although the fat content of the foods consumed during television viewing did not differ significantly from that of the foods consumed with the television off, less soda, fast food, fruit, and vegetables were consumed with the television on. The amount of food consumed during television viewing was not associated with children's BMI, but in the third-grade sample, the fat content of foods consumed during television viewing was associated with BMI.
Conclusions: A significant proportion of children's daily energy intake is consumed during television viewing, and the consumption of high-fat foods on weekends may be associated with BMI in younger children.