Background. National data indicate that children and youth do not meet Healthy People 2010 objectives for fruit and vegetable intake. Television viewing is hypothesized as a contributing factor because of its documented role in encouraging consumption of highly advertised foods that may lead to the replacement of fruits and vegetables.

Methods. A sample of 548 ethnically diverse students (average age: 11.7 ± 0.8 years) from public schools in 4 Massachusetts communities were studied prospectively over a 19-month period from October 1995 to May 1997. We examined the associations between baseline and change in hours of television and video viewing per day (the predictor variables) and change in energy-adjusted intake of fruits and vegetables by using linear regression analyses to control for potentially confounding variables and the clustering of observations within schools.

Findings. For each additional hour of television viewed per day, fruit and vegetable servings per day decreased (−0.14) after adjustment for anthropometric, demographic, dietary variables (including baseline percent energy from fat, sit-down dinner frequency, and baseline energy-adjusted fruit and vegetable intake), and physical activity. Baseline hours of television viewed per day was also independently associated with change in fruit and vegetable servings (−0.16).

Conclusions. Television viewing is inversely associated with intake of fruit and vegetables among adolescents. These associations may be a result of the replacement of fruits and vegetables in youths’ diets by foods highly advertised on television.

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