Reducing sedentary behavior, screen time to prevent childhood obesity

Published 9:54 pm Tuesday, July 16, 2019


Boyle County Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Sciences

The American Heart Association (AHA) has recently come out with a new statement addressing the problem of inactive children, more specifically screen time and the frequency of childhood obesity.

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According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, it is estimated that children and adolescents are sedentary, or not active, an average of seven hours per day. This survey also found that the amount of time children are sedentary increases as they get older.

During these sedentary hours, most kids are watching screens. Screen time or times that children are sitting, are among the most notable factors for obesity. Screen time was also seen to increase with children’s age.

Screen time has become a part of our everyday lives and has increasingly become a part of a child’s life. This study by the AHA found that screen time leads to weight gain and ultimately childhood obesity.

Although it’s not yet clear how much screen time we should allow children, there is enough evidence to suggest that sedentary behavior and screen time should be reduced however possible.

Firstly — lead by example. Parents, give the phone a break. We could all benefit from a little less social media and a little more social interaction. Children learn the skill of communication just like everything else, by observing the example.

With this new information and statistics, it is important to encourage children to be active. Suggest different activities to your children and make sure to put a limit on TV and computer time.

Summertime is the perfect time to pick up some healthier habits regarding physical activity. Take advantage of the fact kids aren’t in school and tied up with other activities. Start taking walks after meals, enjoy that nice weather together. Go for a bike ride, take the dog to the dog park.  Find something that you enjoy doing that keeps you and your family active.

During the summer, it’s easy to use the heat as an excuse not to go outside and be active. Suggestions for safe outdoor activity in the summer include exercising during cooler parts of the day before noon and after dinnertime when the sun isn’t so high. Remember to carry water with you to keep from getting dehydrated. Hiking is a great activity the whole family can participate in, plus it can be done in the shade.

Outdoor play and face-to-face interaction with other children is highly suggested. Overall, the more active our children are, the better their health will be.

For more information on summer fun for the whole family or comments about this column email me at