Wednesday, August 3, 2011

TV and children obesity

Did you know? There is no waking activity that we do that burns fewer calories than watching TV? The more television children watch, the more likely they are to snack between meals and want the foods advertised on commercials. Find out alternatives to watching TV and how to get your child moving.
TV Ads and Childhood Obesity
It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that children are often snacking on food while watching their favorite television show. Snacking while watching TV contributes to poor eating habits. A child, between the ages of 2-17, watches television on average, 3 1/2 hours a day or 25 hours each week. The maximum amount recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics is two (2) hours of television each day.

Children can be easily influenced by what they see and hear on TV. Research shows that the more television children watch, the more likely they are to snack between meals and to want the foods advertised on commercials. Have you ever watched the commercials on a Saturday morning during cartoons? It is filled with ads for junk food such as sugared cereals, chips, and candy.

TV Tips For Parents
Let’s be honest. Television is mesmerizing and that is why parents like it occasionally because it keeps children quiet. Here are some simple steps to follow to make sure your family is making smart choices when it’s time for TV:

·         Decide as a family what television programs are worthwhile to watch. Sit down a few minutes before the show comes on and then turn the television off at the end
·         Make sure your child has finished his/her homework and chores before relaxing in front of the tube
·         Set a time limit for watching television each day and stick to it
·         Replace television time with some other fun time such as a quick card game or a walk around the block. It’s a great opportunity to talk to your child about their day
·         Spend time talking with your child during family meals and keep the television turned off during the meal
·         Place the remote away from the couch or table so there is less temptation to turn it on if your child is bored
·         Children can easily eat an entire bag of pretzels while watching their favorite show because they are not paying attention. Pour one serving of the pretzels in a bowl instead of the bag. Better yet, skip the snack until after the show.
·         Keep the television in an area of the house where you can see and hear what your child is watching
·         Remove the TV set from your child’s bedroom
·         Do not use television as a reward for a job well done
Celebrate TV-Turn Off Week
TV-Turn Off Week has been celebrated for several years and with great success! Turning off the television is a great way to reflect back at the end of the week and realize how much time television detracts the whole family from more productive activities. Take a healthy break from television and re-focus on activities such as reading a book, exercising or playing a game with the whole family.
Need some fun ideas of activities kids can do when the TV is turned off!

Reducing Kids TV Time
It is important as parents to be a good role model. If you spend all your free time in front of the TV, your child won’t know any better. We encourage your whole family to participate in this experience by leaving your television sets off for the entire week. Take it one step further with your child and write this pledge for your child to sign and hang up on the refrigerator.
“I pledge to stop watching television for a full week”
It might be hard at first! If your television is usually always on, you might hear things and notice things you never did before. The dog snores or the door squeaks. If your child is bored, let their creative juices start flowing and they will be able to entertain themselves. Provide options for your child during the week. Have crafts and board games available or get outside and run around with your child to give them something else to do besides watching television.

Author: Michelle Mirizzi, MS, Registered Dietitian
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