When I was a young girl, our family television viewing took place in an upstairs guest room. We gathered together on the convertible sofa and armchairs and watched The Mary Tyler Moore Show, All in the Family, Taxi, MASH and our other favorites together. That guest room console was the only TV in the house for many years.

Families today watch shows together, too, (maybe the same ones on TV Land!), but with some major differences. One, TVs today come with high definition, hundreds of channels, DVRs and, most significantly for our waistlines, remote controls. That means none of our lavishly-entertained viewers is getting up to change the channel any more. Not a big exercise loss, admittedly, but an object at rest tends to remain at rest.

The second, I would say larger, difference is that most homes built today have open floor plans. My last house in Florida did. If yours was built or remodeled in the last 10 years, it probably does, too.

A house plan I like immensely for a future Chez J lakeside bungalow
from the Not So Big House site plans for sale
What this has done for so many American households is to put the refrigerator, pantry and microwave within view of the television. It also put the TV within a few quick steps of those food facilitators.

So, family TV time now is also a more convenient family snacking time. No one has to go up or down stairs, or across the house, to get food or drink these days. It’s right there in front of you. As you watch (or even skim past) the commercials, all of those food messages are pinging off your brain and the stainless steel of your oh-so-close kitchen appliances.

In my professional opinion, this has as much to do with the obesity epidemic as suburban sprawl. In fact, you could say it’s suburban sprawl of an entirely-related, more personal nature.

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