Do your children spend too much time in front of the screen? If they spend on average more than two hours a day, the answer is yes!
TV-Turnoff Week (April 24-30) is an excellent time to take steps to wean your family from the screen and adapt a healthier way of life. The We Can! (Ways to Enhance Children's Activity and Nutrition) program of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has resources for parents, teachers, and community organizations to help children and families reduce the amount of time spent watching television, playing video games, and participating in other leisurely "screen time" activities. Studies have linked hours of TV watching to increased risk of being overweight or obese. Conversely, researchers have found that children and adolescents who reduce the amount of screen time have lower body mass index (BMI) and less body fat compared to peers.
Karen A. Donato, S.M., R.D., program coordinator of We Can! and the Obesity Education Initiative of NIH's National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), is available to discuss research regarding leisure screen time and offer tips for families to reduce screen time during TV-Turnoff Week and year round. For example, a free screen time log can be downloaded to help families assess how much time children (and parents) spend watching TV, playing inactive video or DVD games, or using the computer for noneducational purposes.
A public awareness program to prevent childhood obesity, We Can! was developed by NHLBI and is being promoted in collaboration with three other NIH Institutes -- the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the National Cancer Institute -- as well as several national private sector organizations. In addition to ideas for parents to turn screen time into active time, We Can! offers proven lessons for youth and parents to adapt healthier lifestyles, including the Student Media Awareness to Reduce Television (SMART) curriculum. Schools and organizations in more than 77 communities nationwide and in Canada have committed to providing We Can! programs to local families.
TV-Turnoff Week is a nationwide campaign to raise public awareness about the negative impact of excessive television watching and to encourage children and adults to watch less television in order to promote healthier lives and communities. The campaign is organized by TV-Turnoff Network and other organizations.
To schedule an interview, contact the NHLBI Communications Office at 301-496-4236. To find We Can! community sites, visit http://wecan.nhlbi.nih.gov and click on "Get Involved."
- We Can! (http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/wecan/)
- We Can! Wean the Screen (http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/wecan/reduce-screen-time/index.htm)
- TV Turnoff Week (http://www.tvturnoff.org/index.html)