Television creates a "perfect storm" of childhood obesity, paediatricians warn today (MON).
The mixture of long-hours sitting doing nothing in front of the box, exposed to advertising for unhealthy products, means today's children both get too little exercise and end up consuming foods which make them put on weight.
The caution comes from the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP), in a policy statement about children, obesity and television.
It advises parents to limit their time their children spend watching non-educational programmes to two hours per day, and take the television screeens and computers out of their sons' and daughters' bedrooms.
Commenting on the statement, the lead author, Dr Victor Strasburger, said: "We’ve created a perfect storm for childhood obesity – media, advertising, and inactivity.
"American society couldn’t do a worse job at the moment of keeping children fit and healthy – too much TV, too many food ads, not enough exercise, and not enough sleep."
Although the warning was about American children, it could almost as easily apply to British ones as well. Studies show that British children watch on average almost as much as their American counterparts.
Dr Strasburger said children saw £5,000 to 10,000 food ads per year, most of them for junk food and fast food."
The policy statement is published in Monday's edition of the AAP's journal, Pediatrics.