Lilienne Dabb, 8, (left) of Preston prefers to play outside, while her sister Zerena, 6, is 'addicted to the Wii', according to her mother Emma, and spends more time indoors. Photo: Simon O'Dwyer
ALLOWING children to have a television in their bedroom almost triples their risk of obesity and type-2 diabetes, a conference on sedentary behaviour will hear this week.
A new US study on 380 children aged from 5 to 18 years found that having a TV in the bedroom and watching more than two hours a day were associated with greater odds of bigger waists and elevated levels of artery-blocking triglyceride, despite exercise and limited sugary drinks. The study, by Dr Amanda Staiano from the Pennington Biomedical Research Centre, will be published in January.
It concluded: ''Parental education to reduce television could protect youth against the development of obesity and an adverse cardiometabolic profile.''
Dr Staiano will speak at the be active 2012 conference in Sydney, where more than 1000 research papers related to sedentary behaviour and getting kids active will be presented.
In an interview from the US, she said parents should monitor television time and aim for less than two hours a day.
Curtin University professor of physiotherapy Leon Straker will tell the conference that schools could help reduce sedentary behaviour, but children were now more sedentary while at school. He said that sitting for more than half an hour was unhealthy, because the body goes into a type of ''hibernation'', like a computer in low power mode.
''Schools are teaching skills for life and they should be taught to never sit down for more than half an hour,'' Professor Straker said.
''If they end up sitting for prolonged periods then they are going to die earlier, the body is not designed to sit still for long periods, it is designed to be mobile.''
Professor Straker said televisions, computers and electronic games should be in common family rooms not bedrooms for a variety of social and physical reasons.
Research from the UK will show that children are sedentary for 4.5 hours a day between the ages of three to six. By the age of 10 they have six hours of sedentary time and by age 17 to 18 it is nearly eight hours.
Emma Dabb, 35, of Preston, has two children - Zerena, 6, and Lilienne, 8 - and trying to keep Zerena active is a struggle, she said.
''Lilienne prefers to be outside. Zerena is addicted to the Wii,'' said Ms Dabb. ''Everyone's different.''
Ms Dabb said, however, that discipline was usually effective in resolving the matter. ''With Zerena I'm trying to teach her that variety is the spice of life and too much of anything isn't good for you. So it's a little bit of Wii and a little bit of outside.
''Once Zerena's out there she loves it, but it's a bit of a trick to get her out there. Lilienne spends half the time on the TV and the Wii compared to Zerena.''
Ms Dabb said all her friends had ''similar battles with their kids''.
With STEPHEN CAUCHI