Turn off the box

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 June, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 June, 2011, 12:00am


The television and computer screen present two of the biggest obstacles to family meals and healthy eating.

A study by Chinese University claims children now spend an average of 31/2 hours a day watching television, working on computers and reading.

Overloaded with studies, many children eat or snack while working or watching television, which has been linked to childhood obesity.

A study by the University of Minnesota found that children in families who watched television while eating meals together had a lower-quality diet with more soft drinks and fried food than the children of families who ate together with the television off.

Hong Kong dietitian Sally Poon Shi-po says it is best to leave the television off while eating.

'Research has shown that if you eat in front of the television, you are likely to eat more because you are not concentrating on what you eat.'

Dr Theresa Lai-Yeung Wai-ling, of the Hong Kong Institute of Education, says it is common for Hong Kong families to watch television while they eat, and many channels take advantage of this by screening popular dramas at mealtimes.

'This is a very bad habit,' she says. 'Television is associated with obesity. Research has shown if you eat while watching television, you eat more and are more likely to snack. You also receive messages from food advertisements. This is especially true of children who are more influenced by television advertising.'