The American Academy of Pediatrics currently recommends that children should not watch more than two hours of TV a day. Findings of a new study, however, suggest that kids should spend less time than this.

The research showed that children in kindergarten and first grade who watch at least an hour of TV a day have increased odds to be overweight or obese compared with their peers who were not as exposed to television.

For the new study, which was presented at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in San Diego on Sunday, Mark DeBoer, from University of Virginia, and colleagues looked at the data of over 11,000 kindergarten children particularly information on lifestyle factors that could impact their educational performance such as their television habits and computer usage. The researchers likewise noted the height and weight of the students.

The researchers found that the children who watch at least 1-2 hours or more of television per day had higher body mass index (BMI) compared with their peers who only watch an hour or less of TV per day.

While the study authors did not find a correlation between computer usage and weight, they found that those who spend at least an hour in front of the TV had 39 percent increased odds of becoming overweight and 85 percent more likely to be obese.

"Children who watch one to two hours of TV a day, as opposed to those who watch less, are more likely to be overweight and obese at kindergarten and first grade," DeBoer said.

The researchers likewise found that kindergartners watch about three hours of TV per day on average showing a need for parents to do something about their children who spend a lot of time sitting and watching television.

Experts recommend that children and teens engage in at least an hour of moderate intensity physical activity everyday as much as possible. It is advised that parent lead their children to become physically active by setting an example. They can encourage their children to engage in physical activities by exercising regularly. It is also a good idea for parents to exercise together with their children.

Limiting the time that children spend watching TV as well as playing computer games would also be a good idea. Family time may also be used for enjoyable sports and other activities that can get everyone moving.

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