The study, which relied on data collected in 2004, defined small screen activity as watching TV, videos and recreational computer use. The data came from a survey of a representative sample of 2,750 Australian students in sixth, eighth, and 10th grades.
More current data might be even more striking because of the growth of new screen technologies such as XBoxes, PSPs, and Wiis, Hardy suggested. The impact of new small-screen technology may show up in a repeat of the research scheduled for 2010, she said.
The findings will be published in the February issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
The researchers said the study was limited in its ability to make a cause-and-effect relationship between more small-screen time and less physical activity because other factors might be involved.
The question of whether less physically fit girls are more likely to engage in sedentary activities is one that Rao said he'd like to see pursued in future research.
To learn more about teens and physical fitness, visit the Nemours Foundation.
SOURCES: Louise Hardy, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow, New South Wales Centre for Overweight and Obesity, University of Sydney, Australia; Goutham Rao, M.D., clinical director, Weight Management and Wellness Center, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh; February 2009 American Journal of Preventive Medicine
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