Martin Hickman
London Independent
May 3, 2010

Parents, beware CBeebies: watching television makes toddlers fatter and stupider at primary school, according to new research.

*Scientists who tracked the progress of pre-school children found that the more television they watched aged two-and- a-half the worse they were at mathematics, the more junk food they ate, and the more they were bullied by other pupils.

The findings, which support earlier evidence indicating television harms cognitive development, prompted calls for the Government to set limits on how much children should watch. American paediatricians advise that under-twos should not watch any television and that older children should view one-to-two hours a day at most. France has banned shows aimed at under-threes, and Australia recommends that three-to-five-year-olds watch no more than an hour a day. Britain has no official advice.

The latest study, published today in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, followed 1,314 children born in the Canadian state of Quebec in 1997 and 1998. Parents were asked to report how much television their offspring watched aged 29 and 53 months, and teachers evaluated their academic, psycho-social and health habits when they reached the age of 10. On average the two-year-olds watched 8.8 hours a week and the four-year-olds 14.8 hours.

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