Sedentary or ‘still’ time spent watching TV, DVDs or playing on the computer is linked to children being overweight and obese. This is partly because the time children spend on small screen activities takes away from the time they could spend being physically active.
Children who watch TV for more than two hours each day are more likely to have an unhealthy diet, less likely to eat fruit and less likely to participate in physical activity.
However, 89% of children aged between four and five years spend more than two hours watching TV, videos or DVDs every day.
In addition, it’s more likely that kids will snack on foods that are high in sugar, salt and fat when they watch TV and many ads about food and drinks are directed towards children.
These ads are often for fatty, high sugar ‘extra foods’ and use branding that is highly appealing to children. Kids recall, enjoy and engage with this branding and it can strongly influence their preferences, purchases and consumption of particular foods and drinks.
Studies have shown that children under eight years have difficulty distinguishing between TV programs and TV ads.
Healthy lifestyle initiatives that target sedentary behaviour in children, particularly small screen recreation, have the potential to make a positive impact on health issues associated with being overweight or obese.
Encouraging children and young people to give up even 30 minutes of daily small screen recreation in exchange for physical activity can make a genuine difference to their health and well-being.