While childhood obesity has been linked to television (TV) viewing, specific mechanisms are not well understood. Obesity related to TV viewing might plausibly be related to decreased physical activity, increased food intake, reductions in metabolic rate, or combinations of these. The current investigation sought to ascertain the metabolic effects of quiet rest, listening to a story, watching a passive TV program, and watching an active TV show. Counter-balanced conditions were presented to 90 pre-pubertal girls ranging in body mass index from underweight to obese. In addition, effects between resting energy expenditure (REE) and race, body mass index, skinfold measures, physical activity, pubertal stage and average hours spent viewing TV were explored. Results indicated no significant differences in metabolic rate between weight groups nor between activity conditions (story listening and TV viewing) and rest conditions. A significant dose-response relationship was found in which REE decreased as average weekly hours of TV viewing increased, after adjusting for body mass index and puberty stage. Additionally, later stages of pubertal development compared to earlier stages were related to higher levels of REE. Results of this study suggest that metabolic rate alone cannot account for the consistently observed relationship between television viewing and obesity. Future studies should focus on energy intake, physical inactivity, or combinations of these with metabolic rate in seeking specific mechanisms responsible for television viewing related to obesity.
- Energy expenditure