Young couch potatoes may be hurting their health more than they know. ScienceDaily.com reports that kids who spend more time in front of the television are more prone to consuming artificially sweetened beverages.

Researchers from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden surveyed the parents of approximately 1,700 children between ages two and four about their kids’ TV viewing habits and consumption of sugary drinks. They found that children who were regularly exposed to food and soda commercials were more likely to consume sweetened beverages.

“The children who watched more TV were more likely to drink these beverages. In fact, each additional hour in front of the TV increased the likelihood of regular consumption by 50 percent. A similar link was found for total screen time,” explains study co-author Stina Olafsdottir.

While one out of seven parents tried to reduce their kids’ exposure to commercials, not everyone can strictly monitor children's viewing and snacking habits. What moms and dads can do is to provide a home where kids have minimal access to unhealthy foods and drinks. Offering healthier choices such as real fruit juices and smoothies may help lessen children’s intake of sugar-sweetened beverages as well.

(Photo by Jon Blathwayt via Flickr Creative Commons)

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