Peeling Potatoes

Are you a couch potato?
Image source: Bitstrips
We have become a couch potato society and children are following this same pattern.  With less physical activity coupled with poor nutrition habits it is no wonder our society has become obese and plagued with chronic diseases.

One factor cited in studies that has contributed to this growing epidemic is the lack of physical activity coupled with hours of sitting in front of our television sets.  Watching television not only keeps us inactive for hours on end but our food choices also take a nose dive the more we watch.  Considering that most of the marketing on television is for high calorie nutrient poor foods it is no wonder. 

Research suggests that the more we watch the heavier we become and the more at risk we are for cardiovascular and other chronic diseases.  Studies have also supported the opposite. The more television time we decrease, the healthier we become.

Take a look at the video entitled “Couch Potato Kids” from Scientific American Frontiers and hosted by Alan Alda.  The video addresses the benefits of kids being more active.  After watching the video, please share your thought on the video and discuss your own physical activity habits.  Besides making people more active, why do you think food choices might also be affected when we watch less television? 


Campbell, K. J., Crawford, D. A., & Ball, K. (2006). Family food environment and dietary behaviors likely to promote fatness in 5–6 year-old children. International Journal of Obesity, 30(8), 1272-1280.

Dietz, W. H., & Gortmaker, S. L. (1985). Do we fatten our children at the television set? Obesity and television viewing in children and adolescents. Pediatrics, 75(5), 807-812.

Jakes, R. W., Day, N. E., Khaw, K. T., Luben, R., Oakes, S., Welch, A., ... & Wareham, N. J. (2003). Television viewing and low participation in vigorous recreation are independently associated with obesity and markers of cardiovascular disease risk: EPIC-Norfolk population-based study. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 57(9), 1089-1096.

Couch Potato Kids [Video file]. Retrieved from


  1. Orville, I really enjoyed reading your blog. It is thought provoking and a great resource for the community. I like your creative avatar and the terms you use that draw readers in, such as “Peeling Potatoes”.

    I wasn’t surprised by the results of the study presented in the video. It is so easy to lose track of time when you are watching TV and if you eat while watching TV, you don’t pay attention to how much you have eaten. I think that TV is not the only culprit in our obesity epidemic. I believe technology, as wonderful as it is, has negative effects on our activity level. Adults and children can play games on IPads, smart phones, and laptops. All of our technology has come at a (potentially deadly) price!
    In 2006, the CDC convened a panel on Children, Television, and Weight Status that recommended ways to reduce obesity trends by reducing television exposure. These suggestions included removing televisions from bedrooms and eating without watching television (Boulos et al., 2012). I would also like to suggest that people get up during commercials and walk around or do some form of exercises. When we want to play games, why not choose games such as Xbox Kinect where you use your body instead of joystick to play a game. In addition, if we decide to eat in front of the television, make the food choices before sitting down and set aside the correct portions prior to eating.
    On a larger scale, Boulos et al. (2013) describe how regulating food companies can reduce sugar intake and increase whole grain consumption. I was surprised to read that Coca Cola and Pepsico companies formed the Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative to promote childhood eating habits through advertising. Companies that participate in the initiate agree to focus 50% of their advertising on healthier food products targeted at children under 12 years of age (Boulos et al., 2013). However, more studies need to be done to see if regulating food companies significantly reduces obesity. Ultimately, we can all play a part in reducing our television “consumption”. Marie Navickis

    Boulos, R., Vikre, E. K., Oppenheimer, S., Chang, H., & Kanarek, R. B. (2012). ObesiTV: How television is influencing the obesity epidemic. Physiology & Behavior, 107, 146-153.

    1. Thanks for your great post Marie! You have included some great information!

      I had often used this video in some of my in-person classes that I taught in the past and it was a great conversation starter.

      One of the activities that I would tie in with my students watching this video was to have my students calculate how much television that watched each week and also how many hours they usually sat at the computer. Needless to say they were astounded! The activity really helped to make them aware of just how inactive they were.

      I am glad that you liked my avatar. I used it from Bitstrips! I have used Bitstrip cartoons on my personal Facebook page and when my friends and family commented on how much I was able to get this one to look like me I thought it would be a fun addition. I really tried to get the look of the blog to give the impression of health have and disarming and inviting look. And I cannot tell you how many titles I went through to come up with ‘just the right ones’!

      Thanks again for you feedback and your great contribution!

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