The more television a child watches, even in the first years of life, the more likely he or she is to be thicker around the middle and less muscularly fit, according to a new study.

Previous studies have linked lots of television with childhood obesity and other child health detriments, but this study's authors say their report is the first to relate how time in front of the boob tube affects a specific measure of physical fitness, their explosive leg strength, an important asset for sports like soccer, basketball and football.

Caroline Fitzpatrick, the study's lead author, said the measure isn't just important for children who want to be athletes. "Explosive leg strength is an important measure of a child's overall physical fitness, their general muscular fitness," she said.

Fitzpatrick and her colleagues at the University of Montreal studied more than 1,300 children from across Quebec. On average, the 2-year-olds watched almost 9 hours of TV each week; by the time they reached age 4, average weekly TV viewing rose to nearly 15 hours.

Read more from ABC News.

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