February 13, 2007
Erik Steele, DO
As more and more of our children become overweight, American parents are looking for ways to help keep their children fit. One of the most important is to cut down on so-called screen time – computer time, TV time, video game time. A new study published recently in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association has found that reducing screen time leads to weight loss in some overweight children.
The study used a school-based, 6-month curriculum to reduce screen time in an elementary school to teach children how to play in ways that burned off more calories than sitting in front of a screen.
This certainly makes sense – to some it may seem like a “Duh” study. But often what we think turns out not to be the case, and those in the TV and video industry have vehemently opposed the notion that their products are part of our national weight problem. This time, however, the evidence says that we need to get our children out from in front of the screens and having more fun that involves physical movement. Experts now generally suggest that screen time for children be limited to one hour on weekdays, and no more than two hours on weekend days.
If parents combined two simple measures that have now been shown to be effective in reducing the risk of obesity in children – limiting screen time and limiting sodas and other sugared drinks to no more than one per day – our children would be just as lovable but there would be less of them to love.