Study Examines Monitoring of TV, Video Games With BMI

Main Point:

More maternal monitoring of the time children spend watching TV or playing video games appears to be associated with lower body mass index (BMI).

Published in:

JAMA Pediatrics


Stacey S. Tiberio, Ph.D., of the Oregon Social Learning Center, Eugene, and colleagues.


Children’s media consumption (time spent in front of TVs and computers) is associated with childhood obesity. However, parental influences, such as media monitoring, have not been effectively studied.

How the Study Was Conducted:

The authors examined the potential association of parental monitoring of their children’s exposure to media and general activities with the children’s BMI in an analysis that included 112 mothers, 103 fathers and their 213 children at age 5, 7 and/or 9 years.


Less monitoring by mothers of the time their children spent watching TV or playing video games appears to be associated with higher BMI for children at age 7 and increasing deviance from child BMI norms between the ages of 5 to 9 years. The finding was not evident for paternal monitoring.


“Low maternal media monitoring does not seem to reflect more general parent disengagement or lack of awareness regarding children’s behaviors and whereabouts. The association between lower maternal media monitoring and higher child BMI was primarily explained by a tendency for these children to spend more hours per week watching television and playing video games. This supports the validity of our interpretation that child media time has direct effects on BMI, is under substantial control by parents, and therefore is a prime target for family intervention.”


Stacey S. Tiberio PhD, David C. R. Kerr PhD, Deborah M. Capaldi PhD, Katherine C. Pears PhD, Hyoun K. Kim PhD, Paulina Nowicka PhD. Parental Monitoring of Children’s Media Consumption: The Long-term Influences on Body Mass Index in Children. JAMA Pediatr. 2014; 168(5). doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.5483

(JAMA Pediatr. Published online March 17, 2014. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.5483)

Editor’s Note:

The authors disclosed a variety of funding/support sources. Please see article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, etc.

Media Advisory:

To contact corresponding author Paulina Nowicka, Ph.D., email

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