May 31st, 2007

Cutting Screen Time Reduces Obesity Risk

United Press International

A U.S. study has found that children who reduce time spent in front of TVs and computer screens do more physical activity and eat more fruits and vegetables.

The eight-month pilot program was designed to enhance the lifestyle and fitness of more than 600 children in three elementary schools in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and two elementary schools in Lakeville, Minn.

“This study provides the most concrete evidence to date that excessive amounts of screen time vastly increase the risk of childhood obesity,” Dr. David Walsh, president and founder of the National Institute on Media and the Family, said in a statement.

After eight months of participating in the Switch program, which promotes activities such as having families eat meals together, the most obese children reduced their screen time by 5.5 hours per week. The children most at risk of being obese and overweight increased their consumption of fruits and vegetables by three servings per week, and 60 percent reported that they increased their physical activity.

On average, U.S. children clock close to 45 hours a week fixed to electronic screens.

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