As more children gain weight and join the growing number of obese Americans, a leading group of pediatricians recommends banning ads for junk food or fast food that typically run during children’s television programs.
The American Academy of Pediatrics published the policy statement online this week and in its July issue of the journal Pediatrics.
About one-third of children and teen-agers are overweight or obese, according to the AAP statement. That’s twice as many compared to 30 years ago.
Children are playing less outside and not staying as active as they once did because they are watching more TV, playing video games or using a cell phone to text.
According to the AAP, one study found that nearly all of the food ads played during children’s television programming were for junk food.
The AAP statement says pediatricians should ask parents whether their child has a TV or internet connection in their bedroom.
“Pediatricians should be aware that children with high levels of screen time have higher levels of childhood stress, which puts them at risk not only for obesity,” the statement reads. It also puts them at greater risk for mood disorders, substance abuse, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and asthma. Replacing watching TV with exercise, imaginative or social play “is an important approach to addressing a wide array of societal ills including obesity.”
Pediatricians and family doctors should also encourage parents to talk about the commercials for food that are played on TV, the statement says. Parents need to teach their children about appropriate nutrition, too.
The AAP recommends parents limit non-educational television viewing for their children to two hours per day. Infants under the age of 2 should avoid watching TV.
Source: American Academy of Pediatrics
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