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      Childhood correlates of adult TV viewing time: a 32-year follow-up of the 1970 British Cohort Study

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          To identify, using a longitudinal data set, parental and childhood correlates of adult television (TV) viewing time at 32-year follow-up.


          Data were derived from the 1970 British Cohort Study, a longitudinal observational study of 17 248 British people born in a single week of 1970. The present analyses incorporated data from the age 10 and 42-year surveys. When participants were aged 10 years, their mothers provided information on how often participants watched TV and played sports (never/sometimes/often), and parents’ own occupation, as well as height and weight. A health visitor objectively assessed participants’ height and weight at age 10. Thirty-two years later, when participants were aged 42 years, they reported their daily TV viewing hours (none/0≤1/1<3/3<5/≥5), physical activity and health status. Associations between putative childhood and parental correlates and adult TV viewing time were investigated using logistic regression.


          Valid data at both time points were available for 6188 participants. Logistic regression models showed that those who reported ‘often’ watching TV at baseline were significantly more likely to watch >3 h/days of TV at follow-up (OR 1.42, 95% CI 1.21 to 1.65), as were those whose father was from a lower socio-occupational class (intermediate, routine/manual) compared with managerial (OR 1.55, 95% CI 1.14 to 2.11; OR 2.05, 95% CI 1.47 to 2.87). Body mass index (BMI) at age 10 was inversely associated with high TV in adulthood (per unit increase; OR 0.93, 95% CI 0.90 to 0.96) although fathers BMI when the child was aged 10 was positively associated with high TV in adulthood (per unit increase; OR 1.04, 95% CI 1.02 to 1.06).


          Findings suggest that childhood TV viewing time tracks into adulthood. Parents’ health behaviours and social position appear to be associated with their children's viewing habits, which may have important implications for the direction of future policy and practice. Specifically, findings support the case for early life interventions, particularly on socioeconomic inequalities, as a way of preventing sedentary behaviour in later life.

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          Most cited references 27

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          Physical activity from childhood to adulthood: a 21-year tracking study.

          The aim of this study was to investigate stability of physical activity from childhood and adolescence to adulthood in multiple age cohorts, and analyze how well adult physical activity can be predicted by various physical activity variables measured in childhood and adolescence. The data were drawn from the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study. The study was started in 1980, when cohorts of randomly sampled boys and girls aged 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, and 18 years (total of 2309 subjects) were examined for the first time. The measurements were repeated in 1983, 1986, 1989, 1992, and 2001. In 2001, the subjects (n =1563, 68%) were aged 24, 27, 30, 33, 36, and 39 years, respectively. Physical activity was measured by means of a short self-report questionnaire that was administered individually in connection with a medical examination. On the basis of a questionnaire, a physical activity index (PAI) was calculated. There were no significant differences in the 1980 PAI between participants and dropouts in 2001. Spearmans rank order correlation coefficients for the 21-year tracking period varied from 0.33 to 0.44 in males, and from 0.14 to 0.26 in females. At shorter time intervals the correlation was higher. On average, the tracking correlation was lower in females than in males. Persistent physical activity, defined as a score in the most active third of the PAI in two or three consecutive measurements, increased the odds that an individual would be active in adulthood. Odds ratios for 3-year continuous activity versus continuous inactivity varied from 4.30 to 7.10 in males and 2.90 to 5.60 in females. The corresponding odds ratios for 6-year persistence were 8.70 to 10.80 and 5.90 to 9.40. It was concluded that a high level of physical activity at ages 9 to 18, especially when continuous, significantly predicted a high level of adult physical activity. Although the correlations were low or moderate, we consider it important that school-age physical activity appears to influence adult physical activity, and through it, the public health of the general population.
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            Childhood predictors of adult obesity: a systematic review.

            To identify factors in childhood which might influence the development of obesity in adulthood. The prevalence of obesity is increasing in the UK and other developed countries, in adults and children. The adverse health consequences of adult obesity are well documented, but are less certain for childhood obesity. An association between fatness in adolescence and undesirable socio-economic consequences, such as lower educational attainment and income, has been observed, particularly for women. Childhood factors implicated in the development of adult obesity therefore have far-reaching implications for costs to the health-services and economy. In order to identify relevant studies, electronic databases--Medline, Embase, CAB abstracts, Psyclit and Sport Discus-were searched from the start date of the database to Spring 1998. The general search structure for electronic databases was (childhood or synonyms) AND (fatness or synonyms) AND (longitudinal or synonyms). Further studies were identified by citations in retrieved papers and by consultation with experts. Longitudinal observational studies of healthy children which included measurement of a risk factor in childhood (<18 y), and outcome measure at least 1 y later. Any measure of fatness, leanness or change in fatness or leanness was accepted. Measures of fat distribution were not included. Only studies with participants from an industrialized country were considered, and those concerning minority or special groups, e.g. Pima Indians or children born preterm, were excluded. Risk factors for obesity included parental fatness, social factors, birth weight, timing or rate of maturation, physical activity, dietary factors and other behavioural or psychological factors. Offspring of obese parent(s) were consistently seen to be at increased risk of fatness, although few studies have looked at this relationship over longer periods of childhood and into adulthood. The relative contributions of genes and inherited lifestyle factors to the parent-child fatness association remain largely unknown. No clear relationship is reported between socio-economic status (SES) in early life and childhood fatness. However, a strong consistent relationship is observed between low SES in early life and increased fatness in adulthood. Studies investigating SES were generally large but very few considered confounding by parental fatness. Women who change social class (social mobility) show the prevalence of obesity of the class they join, an association which is not present in men. The influence of other social factors such as family size, number of parents at home and childcare have been little researched. There is good evidence from large and reasonably long-term studies for an apparently clear relationship for increased fatness with higher birth weight, but in studies which attempted to address potential confounding by gestational age, parental fatness, or social group, the relationship was less consistent. The relationship between earlier maturation and greater subsequent fatness was investigated in predominantly smaller, but also a few large studies. Again, this relationship appeared to be consistent, but in general, the studies had not investigated whether there was confounding by other factors, including parental fatness, SES, earlier fatness in childhood, or dietary or activity behaviours. Studies investigating the role of diet or activity were generally small, and included diverse methods of risk factor measurement. There was almost no evidence for an influence of activity in infancy on later fatness, and inconsistent but suggestive evidence for a protective effect of activity in childhood on later fatness. No clear evidence for an effect of infant feeding on later fatness emerged, but follow-up to adulthood was rare, with only one study measuring fatness after 7y. Studies investigating diet in childhood were limited and inconc
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              Why do children from socioeconomically disadvantaged families suffer from poor health when they reach adulthood? A life-course study.

              The authors investigated what risk factors contribute to an excess risk of poor adult health among children who experience socioeconomic disadvantage. Data came from 1,037 children born in Dunedin, New Zealand, in 1972-1973, who were followed from birth to age 32 years (2004-2005). Childhood socioeconomic status (SES) was measured at multiple points between birth and age 15 years. Risk factors evaluated included a familial liability to poor health, childhood/adolescent health characteristics, low childhood intelligence quotient (IQ), exposure to childhood maltreatment, and adult SES. Adult health outcomes evaluated at age 32 years were major depressive disorder, anxiety disorders, tobacco dependence, alcohol or drug dependence, and clustering of cardiovascular disease risk factors. Results showed that low childhood SES was associated with an increased risk of substance dependence and poor physical health in adulthood (for tobacco dependence, sex-adjusted relative risk (RR) = 2.27, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.41, 3.65; for alcohol or drug dependence, RR = 2.11, 95% CI: 1.16, 3.84; for cardiovascular risk factor status, RR = 2.55, 95% CI: 1.46, 4.46). Together, the risk factors studied here accounted for 55-67% of poor health outcomes among adults exposed to low SES as children. No single risk factor emerged as the prime explanation, suggesting that the processes mediating the link between childhood low SES and adult poor health are multifactorial.

                Author and article information

                J Epidemiol Community Health
                J Epidemiol Community Health
                Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health
                BMJ Publishing Group (BMA House, Tavistock Square, London, WC1H 9JR )
                April 2015
                21 August 2014
                : 69
                : 4
                : 309-313
                [1 ]Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Health Behaviour Research Centre, University College London , London, UK
                [2 ]Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Physical Activity Research Group, University College London , London, UK
                Author notes
                [Correspondence to ] Dr Lee Smith, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Health Behaviour Research Centre, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, UK; lee.smith@
                Published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited. For permission to use (where not already granted under a licence) please go to

                This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt and build upon this work, for commercial use, provided the original work is properly cited. See:

                Life Course and Long-Term Influences on Health
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                Public health

                public health, epidemiology, prevention


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