Friday, March 28, 2014

Why Watching Your Kid’s Media Use May Affect Their Weight

sharma-obesity-family-watching-tvElectronic media consumption has been linked to childhood obesity – but does monitoring your kid’s media use affect their body weight?

This question was now addressed by Tiberio and colleagues in a paper published in JAMA Pediatrics.

The researchers examined longitudinal data from a community sample in the US Pacific Northwest that indluced 112 mothers, 103 fathers and their 213 kids aged five to nine years old.

The data included what parents reported on their general monitoring of their children (whereabouts and activities), specific monitoring of child media exposure, children’s participation in sports and recreational activities, children’s media time (hours per week), household annual income, and educational level as well as parental BMI was recorded.

It turns out that maternal (but not paternal) reports of monitoring their kid’s media exposure was associated with lower BMI z scores at age seven as well as less weight gain between five and seven years of age.

These findings remained significant even after adjustment for several other variables including total media time as well as sports and recreational activities.

From these findings, the authors conclude that,

Parental behaviors related to children’s media consumption may have long-term effects on children’s BMI in middle childhood.

And that these finding,

“…underscore the importance of targeting parental media monitoring in efforts to prevent childhood obesity.”

I would not go quite that far for several reasons.

Firstly, associations do not prove causation. In addition, we don’t know much about other aspects of parenting style from this study that may well also have impacted body weight.

Thus, we could well speculate that moms who monitor their kid’s media consumption may also be more adamant about bed times, healthy eating, or even just spending more time talking to or listening to their kids – all of which may well have positive effects on their kid’s weight.

This is why simply getting parents to be stricter about monitoring their kid’s media consumption may not result in better weights at all.

As always, I  find it disconcerting when epidemiological data is used to predict what may or may not happen when interventions target a proposed “cause”.

Nevertheless, for anyone interested in this topic, the following event may be of interest:


On May 1, 2014 the Alberta Teachers’ Association, in partnership with the Alberta Centre for Child, Family and Community Research, is pleased to invite Dr. Michael Rich and Dr. Valerie Steeves to Edmonton for a discussion on how technology is impacting children, youth and society. This is a continuation of our series of evening public lectures with world renowned and distinguished speakers that has included Sir Ken Robinson, Sherry Turkle, Yong Zhao, Jean Twenge, and Carl Honore.

Dr. Valerie Steeves, Associate Professor, University of Ottawa, and principal investigator of the largest Canadian research study on children & teens’ online habits.

Young Canadians in a Wired World (2013) – Explore the highlights of Dr. Steeves’ pioneering Canadian research on children & teens’ online habits.

Ø  Cyberbullying: Dealing with Online Meanness, Cruelty and Threats

Ø  Online Privacy, Online Publicity 

Ø  Life Online

Dr. Michael Rich, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and Associate Professor of Society, Human Development, and Health at Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, United States.

Ø Centre on Media and Child Health – Explore Dr. Rich’s extensive work on behalf of Children’s Hospital Boston, Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health:

Ø CBC national panel discussion on Youth and Technology (February 2014):

Ø Ask the “Mediatrician” a question

There will also be a public lecture on Thursday evening May 1, 2014 entitled “Connected or Disconnected? Technology and Canadian Youth”.

Who: Dr. Michael Rich (Harvard University) and Dr. Valerie Steeves (University of Ottawa)

When: Thursday Evening, May 1, 2014

Where: Barnett House, Alberta Teachers’ Association, 11010 – 142 street NW Edmonton, Alberta

•6:00 pm Registration and reception (hors d’oeuvre and no host bar)

•7:00 pm to 9:30 pm Public lectures and discussions

Order Tickets ($10) Online at

For further information or any questions about this event please email or call 1-800-232-7208.

Edmonton, AB

ResearchBlogging.orgTiberio SS, Kerr DC, Capaldi DM, Pears KC, Kim HK, & Nowicka P (2014). Parental Monitoring of Children’s Media Consumption: The Long-term Influences on Body Mass Index in Children. JAMA pediatrics PMID: 24638968

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Dr. Sharma’s Obesity Notes: Weekend Roundup

As not everyone may have a chance during the week to read every post, here’s a roundup of last week’s posts in order of popularity:

Have a great Sunday! (or what’s left of it)

Edmonton, Alberta

You can now also follow me and post your comments on Facebook

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Friday, July 23, 2010

No Post Today

Well aware that for many readers, my daily blog has become a bit of a routine, this is just a brief note to let you know that there will be no post today – at least not on obesity.

The simple reason being that I am in a location where internet reeception is so poor that writing an actual post would be so tedious, that it would simply not be fun!

So no worries, I’ll be back with more posts next week.

Kicking Horse, BC

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Striking a Path for Canada-India Collaborations

Yesterday, I spoke at the clinical pre-conference of the Canada-India Networking Initiative on Cardiovascular Health: Opportunities and Challenges for Collaboration Between Canada and India.

The four-day conference, hosted by Simon Fraser University and Fraser Health, is being held at the Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Surrey, BC.

The conference was opened by the Hon. Moira Stilwell, BC’s Minister of Advanced Education and Labour Market Development, who emphasized the importance of fostering these type of international collaborations to improve the health of citizens of both nations.

I am certainly most grateful to Arun Chockalingam (former member of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Obesity Network) and Arun Garg, co-organisers of this meeting, for the opportunity to participate in this event.

Also on the program of this conference are the results of INTERSTROKE, a massive international collaboration of Canada-based researchers (led by McMaster University’s Salim Yusuf) with colleagues from around the world, including India, published online yesterday in The Lancet.

Regular readers of these pages may recall the results of the INTERHEART study, which demonstrated the importance of abdominal obesity (among other factors) for heart disease.

The just published INTERSTROKE study is a case-control study in 22 countries worldwide between comparing patients with acute first stroke (n=3000) to age and sex-matched controls with no history of stroke (n=3000).

The researchers identified 10 risk factors that together account for almost 90% of the risk for ischaemic and haemorrhagic stroke).

Abdominal obesity, expressed as the highest tertile of waist-to-hip ratio, was associated with a 1.65-fold increase for stroke.

The other significant risk factors included history of hypertension (OR 2·64), current smoking (2·09), diet risk score (1·35), regular physical activity (0·69), diabetes mellitus (1·36), more than 30 drinks per month or binge drinking (1·51), psychosocial stress (1·30) and depression (1·35), cardiac causes (2·38), and ratio of apolipoproteins B to A1 (1·89).

Collectively, these risk factors accounted for 88·1% of the population attributable risk for all stroke.

These risk factors were all significant for ischaemic stroke, whereas hypertension, smoking, waist-to-hip ratio, diet, and alcohol intake were significant risk factors for intracerebral haemorrhagic stroke.

Within food groups, intake of fish and fruits—components of a Mediterranean diet – was associated with the greatest risk reduction.

Surrey, British Columbia

p.s. You can now also follow me and post your comments on Facebook

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Follow Dr. Sharma On Facebook

Regular readers will know that most of my posts deal with serious issues relevant to obesity prevention and management – most often my posts are on new research findings that catch my attention.

But everyday there are more stories than I could ever blog about – not everything is serious, there are many quirky news items, videos, blog postings, and other stuff that may be of interest to my readers – but here is not the place for them.

To liven things up and to give my readers a much broader chance to engage in my postings and discuss some of the many issues relevant to weight management, I have created a “Fan Page” on Facebook.

Every day, many readers send me links to articles and news items that they feel I could blog about – here is your chance to directly share these links with my readers by posting them on my Facebook page.

I invite anyone with a Facebook account to visit and sign up to my “Fan Page” by clicking here (and if you like what you see – please do invite your friends!).

Looking forward to seeing you on Facebook!

Edmonton, Alberta

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In The News

Diabetics in most need of bariatric surgery, university study finds

Oct. 18, 2013 – Ottawa Citizen: "Encouraging more men to consider bariatric surgery is also important, since it's the best treatment and can stop diabetic patients from needing insulin, said Dr. Arya Sharma, chair in obesity research and management at the University of Alberta." Read article

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