Fat kids? Halve their TV viewing

March 4th, 2008 - 1:17 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, March 4 (IANS) Cutting down on TV viewing by 50 percent over a two-year period can help reduce overweight children’s calorie intake, sedentary behaviour and body mass index (BMI). Previous studies have shown an association between TV viewing and obesity, according to a report published in March issue of Archives of Paediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

“TV viewing is related to consumption of fast food and foods and beverages that are advertised on TV,” the authors write.

“Viewing cartoons with embedded food commercials can increase choice of the advertised item in preschoolers, and television commercials may prompt eating.

Leonard H. Epstein of the University at Buffalo and colleagues conducted a clinical trial involving 70 children age four to seven years whose BMI was at the 75th percentile or higher for their age and sex.

All participants regularly watched TV or played computer games for at least 14 hours per week at home. For the study, their families agreed to have a monitoring device installed on each television set and computer monitor. Every family member had an individual code to activate the electronic devices.

During the study, 36 children were randomly assigned to the intervention group. Their codes had a set weekly time limit.

Study staff reduced these children’s weekly screen time allotment by 10 percent per week until a 50 percent reduction was reached.

By the end of the study, children with no time limits reduced their TV and computer use by an average of 5.2 hours per week, compared with an average reduction of 17.5 hours per week among children whose time was restricted.

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