Linking Developmental Trajectories of Media Use and Obesity from Childhood to Young Adulthood

How is media use during childhood and adolescence related to obesity?

Several recent high profile reports indicate that obesity has reached near-epidemic proportions and has tripled over the past three decades. Among the culprits potentially playing a role in the rise in obesity rates is electronic media use by children. Several large-scale surveys support claims that American youth spend more time using electronic media than any other free-time activity aside from sleeping. Research on the connection between media use and obesity is suggestive of an association, but the studies have generally used weak designs, measures with questionable validity and reliability, and overly simplified conceptual models. Building upon a developmental/ecological framework, the proposed study will examine the relationship between electronic media use in childhood and adolescence and obesity, as measured by body mass index (BMI). Two general research questions will be examined: 1) How do media use, obesity, and the relationship between them change across childhood and adolescence? and 2) What are the main individual, demographic, and social and familial factors that moderate this relationship?