The Checkup: TV Watching Makes Kids Fatter, Less Athletic

Confirming what you probably already knew ...

• I’m sure you figured all that TV Junior’s been watching lately isn’t good for him—now you can pinpoint it, to the millimeter. New research looks at exactly how TV watching impacts kids’ waistlines and athletic ability. Warning: it ain’t pretty. The study looked at 1,314 kids between the ages of 2.5 and 4.5 and asked parents to chart how many hours of TV their kids watch each week and on weekends. The average was nine hours a week, but the TV totals crept up with age, putting 4.5-year-olds at about 14.8 hours of TV-watching per week. And 15 percent of kids in the study reportedly watched 18 hours or more of TV per week. Reports CBS News:

Measuring waist size in 4.5-year-old kids, the researchers saw a child’s waist grew by a little less than half a millimeter for every additional hour a child watched TV per week on top of the average the parents reported originally. That means a 4.5-year-old child who watches 18 hours of television each week will gain an extra 8 millimeters, or 0.3 inches, on his or her waist by the time they turn 10.

What’s more, each added hour of television made kids perform about .36 centimeters worse on a standing long jump test, which suggests trading physical activity for cartoons on the couch took a toll the child’s leg strength.

If that doesn’t sound like much to you, consider that all those millimeters and centimeters can really add up over time. Besides, you can pretty much bet that a person’s TV-watching habits are only going to get worse as he or she gets older; those routines developed in childhood usually stick through adulthood, which means an ever-increasing waistline and diminished athleticism. Oh and by the way, the American Academy of Pediatrics says parents should limit kids’ TV-watching to two hours a day, and that toddlers under 2 don’t seem to benefit at all from watching the tube. Food for thought.

USA Today reports that Royal Caribbean cruise line is rolling out a new amenity: all-you-can-drink Coke machines, which whip up 125 flavors at the touch of a button. Of course, the last thing you need when you’re sitting on your butt for a week is 50,000 extra calories of sugar, but that’s neither here nor there.

• Yes, yes, this video was posted a year ago, but it just popped up in my feed yesterday, so I couldn’t resist sharing it. Behold: the most crazy-real-looking robots you’ve ever seen. Dentists-in-training use them to practice teeth cleaning and learn bedside manner, apparently. Spoiler: they talk to you.