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Social factors and television use during meals and snacks is associated with higher BMI among pre-school children

  • Lise Dubois (a1), Anna Farmer (a1), Manon Girard (a1) and Kelly Peterson (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 December 2008

The present paper examines the relationship between social factors, food consumption during television viewing, and overall television viewing and how these are associated with BMI when the role of familial and social factors are considered in a population-based birth cohort of pre-school children from Québec (Canada).


The analyses were performed using data from the Longitudinal Study of Child Development in Québec (1998–2002) (LSCDQ). The study follows a representative sample (n 2103) of children born in 1998 in the Canadian province of Québec. A nutrition assessment was conducted on 1549 children aged 4·5 years and included a 24 h dietary recall, an eating behaviour and television viewing questionnaire, and a measurement of children’s heights and weights. Statistical analyses were performed.


Nearly one-quarter of children ate at least twice daily in front of the television. Children who consumed snacks while watching television on a daily basis had higher BMI than children who did so less frequently. Children who ate snacks in front of the television every day, or some times during the week, ate more carbohydrates (total), more fat and less protein, fewer fruits and vegetables, and drank soft drinks more often than children who never ate snacks in front of the television.


Health professionals should target parents of children at risk of overweight/obesity with focused strategies to help children change the types of foods consumed during television viewing and to reduce the time spent watching television, particularly during meal times, which may change children’s dietary intake and eating patterns.

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