The findings, based on a study of children with Type 1 diabetes,
lend support to the American Academy of Pediatrics' advice that
children watch no more than two hours of TV daily, said lead author
Dr. Hanna Margeirsdottir of the University of Oslo.
diabetes is the less common form of the disease and used to be
called juvenile diabetes. It is not related to obesity and is caused
when the body cannot make insulin, which converts sugar from food
into energy. People with Type 1 must take insulin daily and regulate
their blood-sugar levels.
Snacking and overeating can increase blood-sugar levels; physical
activity can lower them. While TV-viewing is often accompanied by
snacking, the researchers didn't examine diet or physical activity.
The study results "suggest that encouraging children with Type 1
diabetes to watch less television may be important for improved
blood glucose control and better health outcomes," the study authors
Other experts said the study also might suggest something else.
Diabetic children who already have consistently high blood-sugar
levels could feel too sick to do much besides watch TV, said Jill
Weissburg-Benchell, a psychologist and diabetes educator at
Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago.
"It's very clear that there is a relationship. Now the question
is what underlies that relationship," she said.
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Results of the Oslo research will appear in the June edition of the
journal Diabetes Care.
The study involved 538 children with an average age of 13. In
Norway, about 25,000 people have Type 1 diabetes. In the United
States, there are 3 million with the condition and about 30 million
The study evaluated results of a routine test that measured
average blood-sugar control over three months. There was a
continuous increase in the level of blood sugar with every hour of
TV watched, rising to the highest level for those who watched at
least four hours daily.
The results didn't surprise Chicago diabetes educator Monica
Joyce, who founded a basketball camp for diabetic children.
Campers typically are asked how much TV they watch and are taught
"they can get much better blood sugars if they're active," Joyce
If the researchers' theory is right, then turning off the TV
could be added to a list of remedies "that are very low-cost to the
health care system," said Dr. Francine Kaufman, head of a diabetes
program at Children's Hospital in Los Angeles.
"This has got to be the social norm that it's just not acceptable
for kids to be baby-sat by TV," she said.
from file received from AP
Digital; article by Lindsey Tanner, AP medical writer]