Researchers promote starting children young when it comes to exercise and healthy eating
Pamela Cowan, Leader-Post
Published: Saturday, March 29, 2008
Over indulgence in computer games, TV, processed food and fast food. You just shortened the life of your child.
Dr. June LeDrew couldn’t sit still and watch kids morph into “extreme screenies” — those who stare at a TV screen for more than five hours a day and rarely move off the couch.
So the professor of Kinesiology and Health Studies at the University of Regina created some public service announcements that focus on the connection between sedentary activities such as television watching and increasing obesity levels.
“We have the soft commercials or public service announcements where someone is walking around with a cushion attached to their butt and they’re encouraging them not to be a couch potato,” LeDrew said. “But if you’re looking at the health side of this and the detriment to our children’s health in particular, we need a harder hitting approach than that to send a message to the adults that this is not working.”
Her concern is shared.
A study conducted in 2003 by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation titled Zero to Six: Electronic Media in the Lives of Infants, Toddlers and Preschoolers found that one in four children under the age of two years has a TV in his or her bedroom and children six years and younger spend an average of two hours a day with screen media, mostly TV and videos.
Fast forward to 2006.
That’s when LeDrew and two University of Regina co-researchers decided to measure how much time family members spent watching television so they challenged families to unplug their TV and “Live Outside the Box” for a week.
They sent information about the project home with children from two Regina elementary schools. Only 13 families participated and some angry parents called the researchers because they were upset by the suggestion that the entire family go screen free.