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Almost every junior high school kid in America watches TV every day

Medical ResearchObesity ResearchScientific ResearchU.S. Centers for Disease Control and PreventionAmerican Academy of Pediatrics
More than 98% of children ages 12 to 15 say they watch television every day.

Junior high students are having trouble turning away from the television.

A new study from the Centers for Disease Control found that watching TV is a daily habit for close to all middle school age students in America. 

It's not surprising that most children watch television every day, but even so, the numbers are staggering.

Researchers from the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics found that in 2012, 98.5% of children between the ages of 12 and 15 said they had watched television every day for the last 30 days.

The percentage of children that spent time in front of a computer every day was slightly smaller — "just" 91%.

But it's not the percentage of children that are looking at screens each day that is worrying public health advocates — it's how much time they are spending that is the concern.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children spend no more than two hours a day watching TV and on a computer. That's because excessive screen time has been linked to children having higher blood pressure, higher serum cholesterol and being overweight or obese.

Unfortunately, most children are spending more time looking at screens than that. Looking at data from the 2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and the National Youth Fitness Survey, the researchers found that 27% of the children surveyed were meeting the two-hour limit. 

The study also reveals trends in subgroups. For example, the report shows that 80% of non-Hispanic black youths spent more than two  hours a day either watching television or on a a computer, compared to 70% of non-Hispanic white children and 74% percent of children with a Hispanic origin.

The researchers also found a correlation between weight and time spent in front of screens. Sixty-nine percent of children who were average weight or underweight spent more than two hours a day in front of the television, compared to 77% of children who were overweight, and 80% of children who were obese. 

In light of a recent study that found a correlation between the rise in obesity in America and a sharp decline spent in time exercising, that last fact — 80% of obese children ages 12 to 15 spend more than two hours a day in front of a television or computer screen — seems especially telling. 

For more amazing science news, follow me @DeborahNetburn

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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Medical ResearchObesity ResearchScientific ResearchU.S. Centers for Disease Control and PreventionAmerican Academy of Pediatrics
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