TV viewing linked to poor diabetes control in kids

NEW YORK Tue Jun 19, 2007 3:08pm EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Children and teens with type 1 diabetes who spend a lot of time watching television are likely to have poor control of their blood glucose levels, according to new findings.

"Patients with type 1 diabetes are at higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) than the general population, and long-term blood glucose control is a strong predictor for CVD in type 1 diabetes," Dr. Hanna D. Margeirsdottir, of Ullevaal University Hospital, Oslo, and colleagues explain in their report in the medical journal Diabetes Care.

"To our knowledge," they note, "no studies have reported the influence of television watching on blood glucose control or CVD risk factors in children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes."

The researchers evaluated 538 children and adolescents, average age 13 years, from the eastern part of Norway who had had type 1 diabetes for an average of about 5 years. The time spent watching television and time using a computer was obtained in interviews with the subjects or the parents of very young children.

The average A1C was 8.6%. This measurement is the amount of glycosylated hemoglobin in the blood in relation to the amount of normal hemoglobin, and reflects the degree to which blood glucose levels are controlled over the long term.

The investigators found that as the average number of hours spent in watching television increased, so did the participants' A1C level, their body mass index or BMI, and the total amount of insulin they needed on a daily basis.

"Television viewing also has been found to be associated with snacking behavior, and participants who spend more time watching television tend to follow an unhealthy eating pattern," Margeirsdottir's team points out.

"The combination of those factors -- less physical activity, increased sedentary behavior, less energy expenditure, and increased food and energy intake -- could, at least in part, explain our finding," they conclude.

SOURCE: Diabetes Care, June 2007.

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