The contemporary literature regarding the relationship between watching television and becoming obese is rational. A series of inferences have been established regarding the extent in which the children’s adverse behaviour of watching the television and embracing the commercial messages has affected them health wise. As such, the most prevalent health condition that these kids suffer is obesity. However, the research leaves room for further study. The purpose of this study is to reaffirm the magnitude of impact that watching television has on children. However, it also intends to seal the knowledge gap regarding the effects that watching television has on human beings considering demographic characteristics such as age and gender. It also expects to find out if any psychological elements and arguments can be applied to watching television that could lead to obesity. The research, therefore, embraces a phenomenological research approach which reveals four themes. It was conducted through engaging in the interview sessions with five professionals in medicine and psychology comprising of three female and two male participants. Four themes are established from the study. Theme 1: Both parents and children are influenced by watching television. Theme 2: Women are more prone to obesity than men. Theme 3: Time is a contributing factor to becoming obese. Theme 4: age is a contributing factor to the rate one becomes prone to Obesity. The research is significant since it has elaborated the extent in which age, gender and time contribute to becoming obese after watching television.
The choice of conducting research on this topic is influenced by the increasing cases of obesity amongst children who remain indoors. Usually, before any inference is made regarding the relationship between Obesity and watching television, research has to be conducted, and a conclusion is made. Particularly, the topic is not a direct one since it requires further analysis of the problem before any conclusion is made. Remember, most definitions association with obesity apply health concepts. For instance, Obesity is health condition where an individual accumulates much fat in the bodies. As such, the Body Mass Index of such an individual is usually above 29.9 (Reilly et.al 2005). From a statistical perspective, more than one-third of the US adult population comprises of obese individuals. That accounts for approximately 34.9 percent of the population. Arithmetically, these are 78.6 million people. These very people constitute a large percentage of those who suffer severe heart, diabetes, stroke and cancerous illnesses. Some even lead to preventable deaths (Vioque et.al 2000). Despite the perspective that Obesity could affect anyone, it is imperative to denote that economic stability is also a contributing factor towards increased potential to become Obese (Dunstan et.al 2010). For instance, the demographic analysis in most regions across the world argues that those who earn high incomes have a higher probability of having obesity than those will love incomes. That applies to the men. However, an alternative argument is that women with higher levels of income are less likely to become obese than the low-income women.
The zeal to conduct this research is influenced by the fact that amongst most identified causes of obesity, watching television may not have been assumed to be a major contributor. Rationally, watching television or remaining indoor is at times unhealthy (Burdette et.al, 2005). A series of researchers have studied Obesity and the behaviours that attribute to the condition. However, only a limited number of peer-reviewed studies can be attributed to this topic. As such, the phenomenological approach is used in a bid to satisfy the interest of conducting research on Obesity and its relationship with watching television (Groenewald 2004). In consideration of the fact that obesity is a condition that, if one acquires it, could eventually contract serious illnesses that cause a quick death. As such, conducting the research assist in establishing the causes of some common psycho-health issues that could result in the devaluing of life.
Most importantly, the research topic in this context has not been researched by too many scholarly researchers. Therefore, there will be a need to use a qualitative approach to research. Particularly, the research design that will apply in this context is the phenomenological research design. It is a very effective approach to gathering information especially when it comes to integrating with primary respondents in the field (Groenewald 2004). Particularly, the study will utilize the survey tools of gathering the information from the primary respondents. However, the research will also require supportive information from scholarly sources. The research is not being conducted just for the sake of identifying the adversities associated with massive watching of the television and Obesity. However, it seeks to find solutions that could befit the issue. Therefore, the information acquired in the study could be used by relevant associations in ensuring that they develop educational approaches to address the issues in the society.
The research is a phenomenological one. That demands that the appropriate tools of gathering data be used. Usually, in phenomenological research, there is the prevalence of the use of interviews or surveys (Groenewald 2004). That includes interacting with the primary respondents on a one-on-one basis or ensuring that there is an online platform that links the interviewer and the interviewee. Accordingly, this research utilizes already drafted research questions to guide the interviews. That does not mean that the respondents are restricted to providing information based on the research questions. Instead, there is a space for explanations or even providing opinions (Groenewald 2004). The research does not consider observation despite it being an approach of gathering primary data. Observation in this context, especially because the research, focuses on a lifestyle, watching television.
The research questions are segregated into two distinct parts. That includes a major and sub-set research questions to guide the entire primary research process. The major research question will introduce the respondents to what is expected of them in the research.
Major research question: What is the relationship between the lengths of the periods spent watching television and the obesity rate amongst children and adults? Consider gender as a factor when responding to this research question.
Other research questions
The magnitude and prevalence of Obesity are gradually increasing from a global perspective. Additionally, research regarding the same is being taken seriously considering the potential harm the condition posts. There are myriad factors that are associated with Obesity. For instance, Obesity is said to be a body condition where the BMI index exceeds 25. That means that the fats or cholesterol accumulated in the body is beyond the normal levels. The Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation regards fat as “new tobacco”. It is the prime cause of childhood obesity but not constrained by that age. Television watching is one indirect contributor of the accumulation of fats amongst human beings. The literature review will conduct a detailed research regarding contemporary trends of television watching and obesity.
The literature review focuses on the three published reports associated with watching of television and obesity. In consideration of the fact that the three reports provide related information regarding the topic of study, the review analyses the content of the reports collectively. However, respective in-text citations are used to determine the source of varied arguments as stipulated in the literature review. The first report is titled “Television Watching and “Sit Time”. The second report is titled “Effects of TV time and other sedentary pursuits”. Finally, the third report is entitled “Children, Adolescents, Obesity, and the Media.” The approach to review the data collectively is based on a need to avoid tautology especially in the context where the reports agree upon certain arguments.
The first report by Swinburn & Shelly (2008) stipulates the determinants of early uncontrolled television watching and inactivity. Research determines that the accessibility to television has influenced most young children and teenagers to spend most of their off-school times in their homes watching television shows. Accessibility in this context refers to the fact that most children in different countries, especially in the developing and developed countries have television sets in their bedrooms (Swinburn & Shelly 2008). Thus, they have unrestricted access to television shows on a full-time basis. The children, as well as, adolescents who have television sets in their bedrooms hardly engage in physical activities such as sport not unless they are under supervision in their learning institutions.
A recent Australian study that comprised 164 respondents concluded that changes in the television watching over 21 months were not influenced by the autonomy of choice (Swinburn & Shelly 2008). Further, they were not influenced by the beliefs about television viewing and the number of hours that one could watch the television in their homes. Most children in families have a high prevalence in watching television without parental intervention. It is indisputable that most parents have taken the authoritarian approach of parenting. From a psychological perspective, the approach is essential and effective when bringing up a responsible child. However, they have forgotten the essence of controlling such practices whose aftermaths could be hazardous to their health conditions.
Parents too, according to research, have a tendency of watching television on the weekends and during their off-times together with the children. Therefore, the children tend to follow the set example. Remember, televisions shows are also aired on an online platform (Swinburn & Shelly 2008). The current post-technology generation easily streams the television shows in any case their parents stop them from watching the television from their homes.
The second report by Chan School of Public Health. (2016) focuses on Relationship between Television viewing and Obesity, as well as the magnitude of inactivity. The recent immediate discussion of determinants of television watching just indicates that there is an uncontrolled habit of having a lengthy contact with the television. However, further research has been conducted to determine the extent in which watching the television can lead to obesity regardless of the length of period that one watches. Some arguments have been drawn regarding watching television and obesity, especially amongst the children. The research focuses on both psychological impacts of television on the minds of the viewers.
Further, it explains the impact of television viewing on the magnitude of inactivity. It is indisputable that most time spent watching television is usually a time when one is from physical exercise or activity. Studies conducted show that when less time is spent during vigorous physical activity is likely to influence an accumulation of fats that ought to be burned when one is active (Chan School of Public Health 2016). Young children and teenagers have a very strong metabolism system. At the growth stage, they require avenues that will influence their burning of the cholesterol. However, some controversial researchers have attempted to disregard the argument that watching television does not displace one’s physical activeness. In a bid to establish the rational conclusion regarding this issue, a meta-analysis conducted by Marshal Et.al provided that television could be an energy-consuming activity. Arguably, that shows a positive relationship between television watching and obesity. However, counter researches have been conducted to determine the comparison between how watching has positive or negative impacts on the body’s ultimate Body Mass Index.
The third report by Strasburger (2011) focuses on the Impact of adverts on parenting and feeding behaviours. It also focuses on the disrupted sleeping partners and how they influence obesity. In the context of marketing, most companies that produce fast foods still embrace the traditional marketing approach of paying for television commercials. Most children appreciate the commercials since they are interesting and at times exaggerate the benefits associated with them. For instance, companies the produce products such as cookies will always use the most attractive brands and even stipulate the extent in which these foods are essential for the health of a child. The slogans used attract the children, as well as, parents who are deficient of knowledge regarding the impacts that these foods have on their children. Thus, they engage in active purchase and consumption of the products. Arguably, researchers conclude that the factor of time does not apply here. However, the message that the audience acquires from watching the television is what that influences the consumers to become obese.
Massive research now stipulates that kids and even adults have a tendency of eating more and making few healthy choices when they take junk foods when they are watching television (Strasburger 2011). Parents have made series of mistakes to allow their children to increase their screen time and especially in the context of exposing them to suggestive commercials. Parents have been advised to reduce the commercial messages by allowing their children to view only the pre-recorded videos or even using the DVRs to control their encounter with the commercials.
Reliable sources indicate that the advertising, as stipulated above, has adverse impacts on the feeding habits of the children. Research conducted in the years 2006 on 827 children in their third grade focused on a 20-month behaviour analysis regarding their television behaviour. Arguably, the research inferred that the cumulative television time, as well as, the total media time resulted in the children requesting for the fatty foods that are commonly advertised on the televisions. As such, approximately 45 percent of the children consume the fatty foods as a result of the influence of the media. Arguably, the percentage depicts the extent in which the children are affected by adverts. In a bid to confirm these scholarly findings, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation spends 100 US dollars trying to reduce the cases of childhood obesity considering that the food industry still markets their junk and fast foods to them.
Reduced sleeping time is one amongst the sedentary habits that the individuals who watch television adopt. From a psychological perspective, the watching films, shows and other forms of entertainment tend to influence the sleeping patterns. That applies to both the young and aged persons in the society. Following a study of adolescents in the New York, more than three hours of viewing results in distractions of sleep patterns. As such, the reduced sleep is highly associated with obesity. That is influenced by the sudden change of the metabolism because they are affected by fatigue due to less resting demeanour.
The three reports provide deep arguments regarding obesity and even provides a series of research results of the studies conducted by different people, or associations. They also incorporate the results of past researches to clarify their arguments. However, they all focus on the issue of obesity and television watching regarding the children only. Further, the three reports fail to use a phenomenological approach to creating the value of the information provided to the audience. That is; all the reports use data collected from other studies to justify their points. Arguably, this research intends to discuss the topic from a wider perspective. That will include both the children and adults in the analysis of the relationship between obesity and viewing. Further, the research will utilize the qualitative research. A survey will be conducted on five professionals regarding their perceptions on obesity and television viewing. A phenomenological study, therefore, will be sufficient for ensuring that the findings and conclusion of the report are substantial and efficient for an audience that wants to understand the contemporary trends associated with the topic of study.
The research utilized, from a broad perspective, a qualitative research approach. However, from a narrow perspective, the research will embrace the use of the phenomenological research study. The rationale for focusing on phenomenology is because it intends to fathom the peoples’ idea, perceptions, as well as, perspectives of the phenomenon. In this case, the phenomenon is affiliated with Obesity and Viewing television. The research intends to understand the extent in which watching television increases the chances of one to be obese.
The information or data was collected via the use of a pre-structured interview that was conducted on a face to face basis. The research focused on conducting an interview with five respondents. However, the respondents, who all availed themselves for the exercise, were informed before the interview in a bid to seek their consent. The participants were selected according to their professional background and experience in psychological and medical fields.
|Pseudonym||Gender||Age||Marital Status||Educational qualification||Current occupation|
|Participant A||Male||31||Married/ no child||Doctor in Psychology||Private Psychologist/ part time lecturer|
|Participant B||Female||28||Married/ 1 child||Bachelor in Psychology||Private Psychologist/ Researcher|
|Participant C||Female||25||Married/ No children||Bachelor in community Health||Social worker|
|Participant D||Female||39||Married/ 2 children||Doctor/ Masters in Medicine||Cardiologist|
|Participant E||Male||40||Married/ 2 children||Doctor/ Masters in Medicine||Lecturer in a local university|
The interviews were conducted on different avenues considering that the respondents are busy personnel who can only be found at their places of work. Therefore, it was necessary to book an appointment with each participant.
As stipulated earlier, the session was conducted on a one-on-one basis in the comfort of their offices. A set of questions acted as a guide to all the sessions of interaction with these professional respondents. The reason for opting this form of interaction is that it allows one to learn from both the audio and the verbal expressions demonstrated by the respondent. Initially, the sessions were expected to be 30 minutes long. However, the topic seemed to be interesting to all the respondents to an extent that they all extended to as long as one and a half hours at the minimum.
During the interview, I wrote short notes that accompanied the five voice transcriptions that were conducted by each respondent. The transcriptions were reliable back-up plans for information in case I forgot some information provided by the respondents. The questions used I used in the interviews were open-ended. They provided room for discussion. The participants accepted to share some confidential information associated with some case studied they had attended to without disclosing the owner’s confidential details.
I filled the notes and attached named each transcription under the pseudonym of the respondent. Further, the expressions and examples provided in the interviews acted as value-adding elements to the information collected. It was beneficial in the context that it serve the purpose of closing the gap of information that the study seeks to fill. Part of the agreement of consent between the respondents and I was that their information would remain confidential.
In consideration of the rich content acquired from the respondents. First, all the respondents stipulated that it was indisputable that watching television was a potential cause of Obesity. The question was how that occurred. There were a series of themes what were established from the study. First, the respondents conceded to the fact that both parents and children were influenced by television commercials to change their consumption habits. Secondly, the respondents argued that aged women were more prone to becoming obese as compared to their male counterparts. Thirdly, time taken to watch television influences the rate in which one becomes obese. Fourth, both young and aged people are likely to get obese. However, the young are more likely change as compared to the aged.
The interview conducted on the five respondents supported the perception that both children and their parents are influenced by watching television. All the respondents argued that initially, children were thought to be less understanding of the consequences of some products that are advertised on television. However, in recent times, the advertisers have come up with more complex and convincing messages that can attract both the children and their parents. Participant B stipulated, “Earlier, children were thought to be the only parties who influenced their parents to buy them products that are fatty.” As such, the response was sufficient enough to assist in closing the information gap associated with the doubt regarding the impact of watching television by parents. Parents now consume some products that are advertised and hence become obese together with their children.
Most respondents argued that the statistics to support this assertion were not clear or fully accurate. However, participant D argued that his list of patients who suffered heart diseases included a higher number of women as compared to the men. That was central to most conclusions were drawn by other researchers. “I cannot dispute other justified research findings related to heart diseases. However, according to my clients’ records, most women who seek my services attribute their obesity to watching television.” Further, the Respondent argues that the men hardly seek heart services that are caused by being obese. Therefore, it is clear that watching television affects women. Respondent E argued that women may have the most affected because they spent most of their time with their children as compared to the men. Thus, their eating habits are influenced by their children. Their children, in return, respond to the television commercials.
According to the interviews, time spent on the screens is a contributing factor to obesity. First, people who watch television spend too much of their time resting instead of engaging in activities that can help in burning their body fats. Unhealthy relaxing habits lead to obesity. Participants C and E argued that all parties who spend their time glued to the screens tend to accumulate weight at a higher rate than expected. For instance, C argues, “You do not expect to stay idol leaving the tissues and muscles relaxed and expect the fats to burn. You end up adding the fat content of the body.” Alternatively, from a psychological perspective, individuals who sleep less and watch the television are prone to obesity since their sleep partners are affected.
Age is a fresh theme in this research topic. According to the findings acquired in the interview, age contributes to the rate in which one gains weight. Respondent A argued that children tend to gain weight faster that the aged. In participant A’s view, “A child is at his or her development stage. Therefore, any form of input that is likely to foster the growth of any kind is highly utilized in the body”. Further, B states, “An aged individual is less likely to add weight as compared to a young child.” Therefore, when both parties watch television for a lengthy period, the young one becomes obese at a faster rate than the parent. Concurrently, when both consume fatty foods, a child will easily become obese as compared to the parent.
Despite the fact that the research, like most related research, concludes that television viewing contributes to obesity, a series of other factors have been establishing to link television watching and obesity. Time, age and gender have been established to act as catalysts for one to become obese. For instance, the more the time that one spends on the screens, the higher the rate of becoming obese. Further, the younger one is, the higher the risks of becoming obese all other factors held constant. Finally, the gender factor also contributes to the rate in which one is prone to gaining weight beyond the normal Body Mass Index.
Therefore, the findings are a relevant source of information for associations that intend to educate the public about the impact of lifestyle on one’s health status. The research acts as a rich bank of information and reliable findings considering that the transcribed data is gathered from professional respondents. Their response is backed up by practical evidence, as well as, professional experience.
Conclusively, the research provokes a need for further research focusing on the ways that can be used to discourage young children, as well as, parents from engaging in disastrous trends such as watching and embracing television commercials. The findings may be used for educational purposes that could be included in education curriculum where necessary.
Swinburn, B., & Shelly, A. 2008. International Journal of Obesity – Effects of TV time and other sedentary pursuits. Retrieved from http://www.nature.com/ijo/journal/v32/n7s/full/ijo2008249a.html
Strasburger, V. C. 2011. Children, Adolescents, Obesity, and the Media | From the American Academy of Pediatrics | Pediatrics. Retrieved from http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/128/1/201
Television Watching and “Sit Time” | Obesity Prevention Source | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. 2016. Retrieved from http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/obesity-prevention-source/obesity-causes/television-and-sedentary-behavior-and-obesity/
Reilly, J.J., Armstrong, J., Dorosty, A.R., Emmett, P.M., Ness, A., Rogers, I., Steer, C. and Sherriff, A., 2005. Early life risk factors for obesity in childhood: cohort study. Bmj, 330(7504), p.1357.
Dunstan, D.W., Barr, E.L.M., Healy, G.N., Salmon, J., Shaw, J.E., Balkau, B., Magliano, D.J., Cameron, A.J., Zimmet, P.Z. and Owen, N., 2010. Television viewing time and mortality the australian diabetes, obesity and lifestyle study (AusDiab). Circulation, 121(3), pp.384-391.
Burdette, H.L. and Whitaker, R.C., 2005. A national study of neighborhood safety, outdoor play, television viewing, and obesity in preschool children.Pediatrics, 116(3), pp.657-662.
Vioque, J., Torres, A. and Quiles, J., 2000. Time spent watching television, sleep duration and obesity in adults living in Valencia, Spain. International journal of obesity, 24(12), pp.1683-1688.
Groenewald, T., 2004. A phenomenological research design illustrated.International journal of qualitative methods, 3(1), pp.42-55.