The Relationship Between Television Viewing and Overweight and Obesity in Young Children: A Review of Existing Explanations

  • Vickii B. Jenvey


Often, researchers propose that young (3–6 year-old) children’s television (TV) viewing habits contribute to early-onset obesity. Three explanations that link TV viewing patterns of young children with the development of overweight and obesity are considered. (1) TV viewing displaces time available for physical activity, reduces energy expenditure relative to energy intake, and leads to obesity. (2) The cognitive immaturity of young children increases their susceptibility to the persuasive intent of advertisements, for food products of poor nutritional quality. Such food advertisements appear often during children’s TV programs and, it is argued, lead to unhealthy food preferences and dietary imbalances associated with obesity. (3) Both activity displacement and susceptibility to the persuasive messages embedded in food advertisement for products containing high levels of saturated fat and sugar and low levels of dietary fiber predispose young children to early-onset obesity. Conceptual and methodological shortfalls in many of the existing studies cited in support of each explanation lead to conflicting results and failure to replicate existing findings. How future research might address shortfalls in existing research is also discussed


Junk Food Body Mass Index Measure Skin Fold Thickness Food Advertisement Cognitive Immaturity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Australian Bureau of Statistics


Body Mass Index








Meter squared




World Health Organization

Greater than or equal to


Greater than


Less than


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Psychology, PsychiatryMonash UniversityClaytonAustralia

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