Rationing TV Time Works Wonders For Overweight Kids
> 7/24/2006 3:48:00 PM

Common sense reasons that physical inactivity, coupled with hours spent in front of the tv screen with sugary beverages and snacks, contributes to obesity in children. A controlled study in the July issue of Pediatrics suggests a form of parental intervention to prevent such unhealthy habits from leading a child toward heart problems or diabetes. By using the time-tested method of tasks and rewards, researchers gave children an hour of TV or video game time for each hour of physical exercise they performed, dispensing tokens to operate the screen. A control group was encouraged to exercise but not subjected to the technological constraints used on the others.

The study's results, reported in CNN Health, were nothing short of astounding: not only did the children whose TV was rationed increase their physical activity by an average of 65 percent, but their daily TV time went down drastically, from almost three hours to just forty-five minutes. Because they spent less time watching the screen, these kids also tempered their snacking habits, finding fewer opportunities to indulge in unhealthy foods. The kids in the control group, on the other hand, displayed little or no change in their levels of physical activity, leading the researchers to conclude that, though they may intend to alter their habits, overweight kids are much less likely to exercise unless presented with a visible reward for their efforts. Such a setup certainly requires the dedication of parents and other family members, and it will be harder to regulate without the technologies present in the noted study. Still, the overwhelmingly positive results of this experiment point to great possibilities for families devoted to improving the health of their children.

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