, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp 50-57
Date: 13 Oct 2012

Modern Sedentary Behaviors Favor Energy Consumption in Children and Adolescents

Abstract

With the modernization of societies, daily living, school, chores and work tasks are less energy demanding and sedentary behaviors such as television viewing and video game playing are pervasive, particularly in children and adolescents. This sedentary behavior constellation has contributed to the progression of overweight and obesity. The low energy expenditure associated to daily sedentary behaviors has been postulated as the primary mechanism to explain population weight gain; however, recent evidence reveals that many sedentary behaviors also promote overconsumption of food. The present paper summarizes the available literature about the impact of sedentary behaviors on energy intake and appetite sensations in children and adolescents. Overall, screen-based sedentary behaviors (e.g., television viewing and video game playing) stimulate food intake in children and youth, while the influence of non-screen sedentary behaviors on feeding behavior remains largely unexplored. As in adults, insufficient sleep and waked resting positions (sitting or bed rest) are associated with increased energy consumption. Because all of these activities increase energy intake in the absence of hunger, the hedonic (rewarding) component of eating behavior seems to play an important role. At present, public health recommendations focus on increasing physical activity energy expenditure and reducing sedentary time in children and youth. From an energy balance standpoint, the impact of modern sedentary behaviors on food consumption should also be considered if we want to curb childhood obesity. A better understanding of the physiological, psychological and sociological mechanisms involved in the nutritional adaptations to sedentary activities is needed to more adequately elucidate the interplay between sedentary behaviors, feeding behaviors and obesity.