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Television viewing practices and obesity among women veterans


BACKGROUND: Obesity is epidemic in the U.S. and has been associated with television viewing.

OBJECTIVE: To describe the association between obesity and television viewing practices among women veterans.

DESIGN, SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: Cross-sectional, mailed survey completed by 1,555 female veterans enrolled at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System in 2000.

MEASUREMENTS AND METHODS: We used bivariate and multivariate analyses to assess the association of obesity (body mass index >30 kg/m2 based on self-reported height and weight) with self-reported number of hours of television or videos viewed per day, and frequency of eating meals or snacking while watching television, controlling for other covariates.

RESULTS: Watching television >2 hours per typical day on week days and/or weekends was associated with obesity (P<.001), as was eating or snacking while watching television (P=.003). In multivariate logistic regression analyses, watching television >2 hours per day and eating or snacking while watching television were each associated with obesity (odds ratio [OR] 1.4, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.1 to 1.8; and OR 1.3, 95% CI 1.0 to 1.7, respectively), after adjusting for demographic variables, smoking, physical activity, and depression. Results were similar when posttraumatic stress disorder was included in the model instead of depression. Women who both watched >2 hours of television per day and ate or snacked while viewing were almost twice as likely to be obese (OR 1.9, 95% CI 1.4 to 2.6).

CONCLUSION: Watching television over 2 hours per day and eating while watching television were each associated with obesity among female VA patients and may be modifiable risk factors for obesity.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Kay M. Johnson MD, MPH.

Additional information

The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Department of Veterans Affairs, the University of Washington, the NIAAA, or the RWJ Foundation. This project was supported by the Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration, and the Health Services Research and Development Service (SDR GEN 97-022). Dr. Bradley was supported by National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA #K23AA00313) and was a Robert Wood Johnson (R.W.J.) Foundation Generalist Physician Faculty Scholar at the time this work was completed. We thank all the women veterans who participated in this study. We also thank Marguerite McNeely, MD, MPH, for her help with development of our survey questions, Kristin R. Bush, MPH, Jennifer L. Sporleder, and Amee J. Epler for assistance with data collection and management, Karen Foster, MD, for review of the manuscript, and Jackie Kimball and Scott Campbell for assistance with manuscript preparation.

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Johnson, K.M., Nelson, K.M. & Bradley, K.A. Television viewing practices and obesity among women veterans. J GEN INTERN MED 21, S76–S81 (2006).

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Key words

  • obesity
  • television
  • women veterans