No TV at Mealtime

Watching TV during meals influences how much preschoolers eat. Penn State researchers showed a cartoon to 24 three- to five-year-olds at a child-care center during lunch and snack time. They identified which kids were used to watching TV during meals and which weren’t and evaluated the children’s eating habits. Here is what they found:

  • Kids who usually watched TV while eating ate a third more lunch while watching TV than they did when the TV was off.
  • Kids who weren’t used to watching TV while eating ate significantly less than usual when the TV was on.

Researchers think this shows that watching TV during meals can increase or decrease children’s food intake and that habitual TV-watching may distract kids from realizing they’re full and lead to overeating.

A Bright Idea?

Young kids who watch the most TV have difficulty sticking to a regular sleep schedule, say researchers. Why? The bright lights of the TV may stimulate the child and interfere with his or her sleep/wake cycle.

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at

Published: 24 Aug 2010

Last Modified: 06 Nov 2014