Children watching TV
Television in their bedroom could be one of the reasons behind child obesityReuters

Television might be one of the best inventions ever made, but it is often called the idiot box for the addictive effect it has on viewers. Who wouldn't want to laze around and watch TV for hours with nothing to worry about and no chores to do? While it may bring you the kind of mental relief that you have been yearning for, it has the exact opposite effect on your physical health, especially children.

A University College London research has found out that children who have television sets in their bedroom since the age of seven are at a higher risk of obesity by the time they become 11 than those who do not. Additionally, the research also found that girls had higher chances – 30 percent – of developing obesity, compared to boys who had 20 percent chances.

"Ironically, while our screens have become flatter, our children have become fatter," the author's of the study said, according to the Guardian.

The researchers came to this conclusion after studying the habits of about 12,000 children (born in 2000/2001) between the ages of seven and 11 and asked the parents of these children to monitor the number of hours their children spent in front of a television.

Apart from this, parameters such as mother's education, household income, children's' bedtime and how long they were breastfed for were also taken into consideration, after which it was found that children who had television in their bedroom had a higher body mass index (BMI) compared to those who did not have a TV in their bedroom.

"Childhood obesity in the UK is a major public health problem. In England, about one-third of all 11-year-olds are overweight and one in five are obese," the website quoted lead author Dr Anja Heilmann from the UCL Institute of Epidemiology and Healthcare as saying.

TV and child obesity
New study links television in bedroom with child obesityKHALIL MAZRAAWI/AFP/GettyImages

"Our study shows that there is a clear link between having a TV in the bedroom as a young child and being overweight a few years later," Heilmann said.

Apart from spending hours in front of the TV, the children could also be snacking on unhealthy food and may not get enough sleep, which in turn results in more weight.

Hence, the study recommends that there be a strict ban on junk food ads on television before 9 pm.

"The causes of overweight and obesity are complex and multiple. Screen time is part of the bigger picture and further research is needed among older children and adolescents, as the use of screen-based media including computers, mobile phones and tablets increases with age," Heilmann added.