Thursday, May 13, 2010

Limiting Screen Time in Children

You may be aware of the recent kick-off of the "Let's Move" program by first lady Michelle Obama.  On Tuesday, as part of this program, the Childhood Obesity Taskforce released their action plan to tackle obesity in children.  One of their recommendations for early childhood focuses on limiting screen time in children.  They recommend that the guidelines set by the American Academy of Pediatrics be encouraged in all early childhood settings.  Home child care providers are in a perfect place to make a difference in this way!

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children two years old and under should not be exposed to television, and children over age two should limit daily media exposure to only 1-2 hours of quality programming.  According to the taskforce report, one study found that 43% of children under the age of two watch television daily, and 26% have a television in their room!  They also reported that preschool children are watching more television than is recommended. 

What does this have to do with obesity prevention?  Studies have shown an association between increased television viewing and an increased risk of being overweight.  Not only that, a recent study linked early exposure to television (at age 2) to a future problems such as: decrease in classroom engagement, decrease in math achievement, increase in victimization by classmates, decrease in physical activity, and an increase in weight.  Amazingly enough, these negative impacts of the early television watching persisted many years later.

What can you do?  As a child care provider, you are in control of your television set!  Limit screen time and encourage physical activity instead.  You can have a big impact on the present and future health of the kids in your care!   

To learn more about the Let's Move program, and how you can help prevent childhood obesity, visit their website:

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