The effect of TV viewing on children’s obesity risk and mental well-being: Evidence from the UK digital switchover

Adrián Nieto, Marc Suhrcke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We examine the effect of screen-based activities on obesity and mental well-being for children, using a large survey dataset representative of the UK population and an event study model that exploits exogenous variation in the entry date of the digital television transition in the UK. The digital transition increased the number of available free television channels from 5 to 40, leading to a rise in television viewing time. Our results show that receiving access to digital television signal considerably increases the mental health total difficulties score among children, and that this impact grows over time. We also find suggestive evidence that the digital transition could have increased BMI for children. Underlying the net effects appear to be decreases in participation in social and physical activities.
Original languageEnglish
Article number 102543
JournalJournal of Health Economics
Publication statusPublished - 17 Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

©2021 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V.


  • Television
  • BMI
  • Obesity
  • Mental health
  • Well-being

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