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Restricting TV and Computer Time Helps Kids Lose Weight
Date:3/3/2008

Finding offers hope for curbing pediatric obesity epidemic in U.S.

MONDAY, March 3 (HealthDay News) -- Cutting kids' TV and computer time by half reduced the amount of food they ate and helped them lose weight, a new study found.

The finding offers hope to the problem of childhood obesity in the United States, where an estimated 16 percent of children ages 6 to 19 years old are overweight, a 45 percent increase in one decade, according to federal researchers.

"Television viewing is related to consumption of fast food and foods and beverages that are advertised on television," the study authors said in a prepared statement. "Viewing cartoons with embedded food commercials can increase choice of the advertised item in preschoolers, and television commercials may prompt eating."

The findings are published in the March issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

For the study, Leonard H. Epstein, a professor in the department of pediatrics and social and preventive medicine at the University at Buffalo, the State University of New York, and his colleagues studied 70 overweight children, aged 4 to 7, who watched TV or played computer games for at least 14 hours a week.

The researchers installed a monitoring device on each television and computer the child used; the device allowed for the reduction of the children's weekly screen time by 10 percent a week until a 50 percent reduction had been reached. Each family member was given a unique code to activate the TV or computer. In addition, the kids received such incentives as money and stickers to spend less time with TVs or computers.

The other overweight children had no restriction on their use of TVs or computers.

Epstein's team found that the children who had no restrictions on their computer or TV use reduced their TV watching or computer-games playing by 5.2 hours a week. But the kids with restricted
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