Do your kids spend a lot of time watching TV or playing video games? It’s no surprise that past research has linked obesity and screen time, and a recent study suggests limiting screen time is effective in improving a child’s health and weight. Andrea Jacobo from Le Bonheur’s Pediatric Obesity program shares some insight on this information.

Why is obesity linked to screen time?
Screen time is linked to obesity because watching TV, playing videos games or playing on a tablet are considered sedentary activities. This means when engaging in these activities, the child is not meeting the daily requirement of 60 minutes of physical activity. The more sedentary activities the child partakes in, the more susceptible he is to be at positive caloric balance (calories consumed vs. burned), a direct factor to weight gain.

What are the current recommendations for screen time? What counts as screen time?
According to the several research studies, no more than two hours of screen time should be allowed. According to the National Institutes of Health, "screen time" is a term used for activities done in front of a screen, such as watching TV, working on a computer or playing video games.

How much screen time do kids consume?
According to the Centers of Disease Control (CDC)’s youth risk behavioral surveillance system, 32.5 percent of children watch three or more hours of TV.

Once you cut out screen time, what are some healthy options to fill that time?
Healthy options include anything that meets the requirement of physical activity. Moderate (medium) to vigorous (high) intensity activities for 60 minutes are the best options to fill the time gap. Activities include playing sports afterschool, biking, brisk walking, running, dancing, playing outside with friends and family. Join your local community center such as the YMCA and Boys and Girls Club of America that have opportunities for the whole family to get active. The overall goal is to get your child active for at least 60 minutes a day at least five out of seven days a week.