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Children Who Watch Lots Of TV Have Weaker Bones In Adulthood

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Children who watch lots of TV have weaker bones in adulthood


watching tv leader to weaker bonesCurtin University researchers have found children who spend a lot of time watching television, have poorer and weaker bones in young adulthood which could significantly impact their health in later life.

Lead researcher Dr Joanne McVeigh, Curtin’s School of Occupational Therapy and Social Work, said the study examined the TV viewing habits of 1,181 young adults over their childhood and adolescence years and related these to how strong their bones were at age 20.

“Over 40 per cent of study participants watched more than 14 hours of television a week, from ages five to 17. It was this group which experienced between three and seven per cent less bone mass at age 20 compared to those who watched less television,” Dr McVeigh said.

“This relationship remained even after we considered physical activity, calcium intake, Vitamin D status and smoking which are all known contributors to bone health.”

The study found children who watched more than 14 hours of television a week were likely to carry on with this trajectory in later years and this may be linked to the development of weak bones.

Previous research has demonstrated the poorer the bone health in young adulthood, the greater the risk for osteoporotic fracture in later life. Fractures are associated with significant morbidity, mortality, loss of independence, and financial burden.

“Around 1 in 5 people aged 65 and over will die within a year of fracturing their hip so poor bone health is very dangerous in later life,” Dr McVeigh said. 

“Given we start to lose bone around the age of 30, young adulthood is a really important time to make sure our bones are as strong as possible to offset later loss.”

The research further suggested less TV watching was also likely to offset other negative impacts such as obesity as more time can be spent being physically active.

“Previous research has found TV watching has been linked with poorer food choices and drinking too many sugar sweetened beverages which is not good for bone health,” Dr McVeigh said.

“It is clearly important that children should develop good TV viewing habits as our study demonstrates that this sets them up for good bone health in later life.

“We would encourage a reduction in TV watching time and other screen time and promote activities which encourage people to be physically active and build the strongest bones possible by young adulthood.”

The research, titled Longitudinal Trajectories of Television Watching Across Childhood and Adolescence Predict Bone Mass at Age 20 Years in the Raine Study, was published in Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.

Funding was provided by Curtin University; Edith Cowan University; Raine Medical Research Foundation; Telethon Kids Institute; and The University of Western Australia.

About Curtin University

Curtin University provides world-class education to over 46,000 students on nine campuses around the world. Our main campus is located in Perth, Australia and is the largest university in Western Australia. Currently ranked in the top 500 universities in the world (Shanghai Jiao Tong 2009), Curtin’s unique multicultural atmosphere means students experience a cross-cultural learning environment and prepares graduates to live and work in an increasingly global environment. In addition, established partnerships with almost 400 educational and professional organizations in over 40 countries give our students opportunities for travel, employment and further study.

Curtin University Master of Occupational Therapy Overview

Currently there is a worldwide shortage of occupational therapists. With our aging population, people living with chronic conditions, high levels of injury and the need for early interventions with children at risk of developmental delays, there is every reason to believe that this demand for occupational therapists will remain high.

Award Title:Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)
Length of Program:2.5 years full time
Prerequisites:A bachelor degree or equivalent, preferably in health-related.
Interview:Not required by Curtin University
Application Dates:November 30
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Faculty:Health Sciences

The Curtin University graduate entry Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT) course in Australia offers students a fast-track option to becoming an occupational therapist. Curtin Occupational Therapy students will develop knowledge of four broad areas:

  1. Medical, psychiatric, orthopaedic and neurological conditions which affect the health and well-being of individuals.
  2. The theory and practice of occupational therapy including the study of occupation and analysis of the physical, psychological and social requirements of a variety of skills and activities.
  3. Human development covering normal growth and development within the life cycle along with problems which occur such as learning disabilities and the effects of aging.
  4. Occupational health and management, including prevention, education and rehabilitation programs for a variety of workplaces.

Clinical Work Experience

Studies at Curtin University will be complemented with extensive clinical fieldwork practice. Occupational Therapy  students at Curtin will also have the unique opportunity to take part in the Occupational Therapy Abroad program, participating in a fieldwork placement in China, India, South Africa or Ukraine for four weeks.

Entry Requirements

Applicants must have a bachelor degree, preferably in a health or human science related discipline. Entrance into the course is competitive. Evidence of studies in the human biosciences (e.g. human biology) and psychology or behavioural science is required. If such evidence is not available, applicants may need to undertake prerequisite bridging units before commencing the program.

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