Health Check: Is watching sporting events making children overweight?

Is watching sporting events making our children overweight? (WJAR)

Is watching sporting events making our children overweight?

New research published in the American Academy of Pediatrics indicates it might be.

Whether it's former NFL great Peyton Manning hawking pizza or NBA superstar Lebron James promoting soda, kids are watching.

"Children may think, ‘Oh, all of the football players eat junk food and candy, drink soda or juices. These must be healthy,’” said Dr. Vania Kasper, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Hasbro Children’s Hospital.

Dr. Elizabeth Renaud, a pediatric surgeon who specializes in adolescent bariatric surgery at the hospital, agrees.

"The foods that we're talking about also taste good so it's very easy to eat a lot of them,” Renaud said.

Both doctors specialize in the treatment of children who are overweight and obese, which means they see the effects obesity has on the younger population.

And it's not just the weight, but the health consequences.

"When you have a 15-year-old or a 16-year-old who already has those health problems, you can only imagine what their health problems will be once they hit 30 years old. You're talking end stage disease at that point," said Renaud.

That's why this team of doctors is calling attention to the new study, which says 76 percent of foods featured in sponsorship ads for sports teams are unhealthy. It may lead to your child actually craving those foods.

"I see the end result of this in teenagers who have had sort of out of control eating behavior,” said Renaud, adding that parents can play a role by limiting screen time and having a discussion about what's healthy and what's not.

The website www.choosemyplate.gov is a great resource for parents and children.

"There are games on that website where children can become engaged and learn about healthy choices,” said Kasper.

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