More TV and Fewer Family Meals Linked to Childhood Weight Gain

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Here's more evidence linking TV viewing and family meals to childhood overweight.

In the January issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association researchers surveyed a national sample of 8000 kids from kindergarten through third grade to determine how total television viewing time and number of family meals per week effects future weight gain.

What they found is not at all surprising; the more TV kids watched and the fewer family meals they had together, the more likely they were to be overweight by the time they reached the 3rd grade.

This isn't really a novel thought, but does drive home the point that we need to cut down on our kids screen time and try as much as we can to eat together as a family. Other studies have shown that the more family meals kids have, the better their diets are overall.

And this doesn't necessarily mean dinner. That family meal could also happen at the breakfast table or at lunch on weekends. It is tough when our kids have all these activities after school and weekend games, but it is something to strive for. If you don't eat any meals together as a family try for a goal of 2-3 a week. If you're doing about 2-3 a week try for 4-5 a week. Then try for at least one meal together every day. Build gradually but keep long range goals in mind.

The TV thing is a little easier. Limit TV and video game playing to 2 hours a day. Have your kids pick out the programs they want to watch each night and be done with it. If they play video games standing up then you can cut them some slack and allow them some more time. The point is we want to get our kids moving and not sitting.

To see the abstract of this study click here.

Have a fruit and veggie filled day!
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About the Author

Registered dietitian Andrea N. Giancoli is a nutrition advocate, consultant and educator.

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