Childhood overweight is on the rise in all age groups. For example, CDC reports that the incidence of overweight among 6 to 11 years old boys and girls in the U.S. has quadrupled in that last 30 years.
One contributing factor to the increase in childhood overweight is electronics – specifically, time spent in front of the TV and playing video games. A multitude of studies have determined that television viewing contributes to childhood overweight by physical inactivity and by encouraging snacking, particularly high fat and high calorie foods.
Another study of 6,000 youth found the chances of being overweight increased by approximately 2% for each additional hour of television viewing per day. Research at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, confirmed a link between television viewing and children’s food consumption patterns. They found that greater TV use is associated with higher intakes of fat, sweet and salty snacks and carbonated beverages; and lower intakes of fruit and vegetables.
Perhaps the best advice for parents is to get their kids to be active, or better yet, to be active WITH their kids, to limit TV watching to less than two hours per day, and to make sure they eat healthy foods. This isn’t a new concept, although when behaviorist John Lock drafted similar principles for raising children in 1693, he had to idea what parents would be up against!