Apr. 16, 2008 Childhood obesity is a growing concern for pediatricians and caregivers. In response to this problem, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) created guidelines for children regarding physical activity and screen time, which includes both watching television and playing video games.
The AAP has made the following recommendations:
- boys should take at least 11,000 steps a day;
- girls should take at least 13,000 steps a day; and
- children should limit total screen time to two hours a day.
A new study evaluates these recommendations and the combined influence of screen time and physical activity on a child's risk of being overweight.
Kelly Laurson and colleagues from Iowa State University and the National Institute on Media and the Family studied a group of 709 children between 7 and 12 years of age in an effort to assess the recommendations of the AAP.
The children were asked to wear pedometers and were given surveys to measure the amount of time spent watching TV and playing video games each day. The researchers then calculated the body mass index, a measurement that can be used to determine obesity, of each child.
Almost 20% of the children surveyed were found to be overweight, with less than half meeting both recommendations of the AAP.
According to Laurson, "Children not meeting the physical activity or exceeding the screen time recommendations were 3-4 times more likely to be overweight than those complying with both recommendations."
He also notes that although some children surveyed met one of the guidelines, very few of the children met both. By encouraging physical activity and limiting screen time, caregivers may be able to reduce the risk of children from becoming overweight.
The study is reported in "Combined influence of physical activity and screen time recommendations on childhood overweight" by KR Laurson, M.S., JC Eisenmann, Ph.D., GJ Welk, Ph.D., EE Wickel, Ph.D., DA Gentile, Ph.D., and DA Walsh, Ph.D. The article appears in The Journal of Pediatrics, DOI 10.1016/j.jpeds.2008.02.042, published by Elsevier.
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