The study, which was published in the journal Science & Sports, was conducted by researchers from the University of Porto. However, the researchers did not look into the impact of having TVs in bedrooms on the health of young boys.
Data from the study suggest that four-year-old girls have a greater risk of becoming obese if they are allowed to have a television in their bedroom.
For the study, Dr. Jorge Mota and his fellow researchers examined the lifestyles and habits of 120 girls aged four to six. They also talked to the kids' parents.
Their findings suggest that the girls with TVs in their bedrooms were at least thrice as likely to be overweight compared with the other girls who were without the same luxury. After they were questioned, at least two-thirds of the parents admitted that their children had a TV in their bedroom when they were as young as six.
The researchers also found that the amount of time children spend watching TV only increases as they get older. They warned that, if left unresolved, unrestricted TV time could cause serious health problems in young children.
Additionally, having their own TVs means kids will spend less time on other activities like playing outside or taking part in physical activities. (Related: Experts warn that kids who watch TV see more ads for junk food, consuming on average 500 more snacks per year than kids who don’t.)
While the researchers didn't offer any other explanation as to why TVs in the bedroom could increase a child's risk of obesity, other medical trials have found that kids eat more unhealthy snacks while they watch TV and are exposed to more junk food ads.
The Portuguese study isn't the first to confirm that children who have a TV in their bedroom have a higher risk of obesity.
Back in 2017, researchers from University College London reported similar results after they worked with a much larger sample of 12,500 young girls and boys.
In a study published that same year, scientists discovered that young boys had a lower risk of becoming obese than girls despite having TVs in their bedrooms. The researchers posited that this was may be because boys jump around while watching TV, unlike girls.
Other studies also warned that obese children are at least five times more likely to become obese adults. This increases their risk of developing severe diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
To help your children stay healthy, don't let them have a TV in their bedroom. Keep TVs and computers in common areas, like the living room, so you can monitor your kids' usage.
Here are other tips that can help you manage your kids' TV time.
Make an effort to manage your kids' TV time and set a good example to help them stay healthy and to lower their risk of childhood obesity.