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Report Ties Children’s Use of Media to Their Health

December 2, 2008

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Dr. Emanuel, Mr. Steyer and others plan to brief Washington policy makers on the study on Tuesday. Joined by researchers at Yale University and California Pacific Medical Center, Dr. Emanuel’s team analyzed almost 1,800 studies conducted since 1980 and identified 173 that met the criteria the researchers set.

In a clear majority of those studies more time with television, films, video games, magazines, music and the Internet was linked to rises in childhood obesity, tobacco use and sexual behavior. A majority also showed strong correlations — what the researchers deemed “statistically significant associations” — with drug and alcohol use and low academic achievement.

The evidence was somewhat less indicative of a relationship between media exposure and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, the seventh health outcome that was studied.

Dr. Emanuel, whose brother, Rahm, is the president-elect’s chief of staff, said he was surprised by how lopsided the findings were. “We found very few studies that had any positive association” for children’s health, he said.

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