Turn Off the TV

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Back in September in my post How Well are We Fighting Childhood Obesity? I wrote about the Institute of Medicine's report on the obesity status and I listed several tips they issued to fight this epidemic. One of them was to limit children's television viewing, computer and video game time. In my October post Sleeping to Stay Slim? one of the recommendations was to remove TVs from the bedroom. Why the focus on TV? TV viewing time has been linked to increased risk of obesity. The more ya watch the more likely you'll be overweight. More TV viewing means less physical activity. We also tend to eat in front of the TV and this results in mindless eating and therefore, overconsumption of calories. Most experts recommend no more than two hours of screen time a day, TV and computer use included.

Well the excess TV viewing issue is in the news again. This time the authors of Reducing Childrens' Television Viewing-Time published in this month's issue of Pediatrics give some concrete tips on how to actually do that. First let's talk a little about the study. The authors surveyed 180 kids and their parents about their TV and computer time behavior. Here's what they found:

* Kids reported about 4-6 hours of total screen time, over 3 hours of that being TV time
* Parents reported their kids watched less TV than they actually did
* Few parents had rules limiting TV viewing time
* The average home had 4 TV sets
* In two thirds of the households, TVs were in kids' bedrooms (a big no no)
* Half of the households had TVs in their kitchen or dining area


Basically this boiled down to too much TV and other screen time media. Bottomline, decrease TV time! Here's what the authors suggest:

*Pay Attention to How Much Time Children Spend Using All Screen Media
*Do Not Put a Television Set in a Child's Bedroom
--kids with TVs in their rooms watch more
*Eliminate Background Television
--if it's just on for white noise turn it off. Save TV viewing for programs you really want to watch
*Limit Television on School Days
*Identify Nonscreen, In-Home Activities That Are Pleasurable to Children
*Do Not Put a Television in Household Eating Areas and Do Not Connect Television Viewing With Eating of Any Sort, Including Snacks and Meals
--I.e. No eating in front of the TV!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you want to read the full study here's the link http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/118/5/e1303#SEC3

Have a fruit and veggie filled day with the TV off :)
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About the Author

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

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