TV, DVD’s, Electronic Games for Christmas? What parents should know!

We know that time spent in front of the “screen” is related to increased obesity.  It is commonly called “sit time” … and … compared to “fit time”  …. well there is no comparison.  Physical activity burns calories and improves health in many different ways. The Harvard School of Public Health published a great review on the problem.  But, does screen time affect more than just the calorie burn and the health benefits of physical activity? Apparently so …

A study recently published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at screen time with teenagers and the association in the types of foods eaten.  This study only looked at the eating of “foods of low nutritional quality” (FLNQ) as it related to total screen time  … from television, electronic games, and/or DVDs.  FLNQs included sugar or high-fructose sweetened beverages, fast food, sweets, and salty snacks.  The study also looked at the effect of increased eating of FLNQs and changes in fruit and vegetable consumption.  Over 7,000 teens were followed over several years.  The results?  The amount of “screen” time directly correlated with increased intake of FLNQs and decreased intake of fruits and vegetables!  The more the screen time, the bigger the problem.  The study conclusion  –  “Increases in screen time were associated with increased consumption of foods and beverages of low nutritional quality and decreased consumption of fruits and vegetables.  Our results caution against excessive use of screen media ..”

So, as parents, does this mean no more screen time for our teenagers?  Good luck on that strategy!

Yes, it is good to try to limit screen time.  It is also good to try to limit foods of low nutritional value.  Heck, you are reading the Wild Oats blog, you already know that!!  How about providing higher quality snacks and beverages?  Wild Oats cookies are a must!  The Honey Wheat Mini-Pretzels are a good choice too, or the popcorn or any of our healthy snacks.  Starting with snack foods of high nutritional value and then adding fruits and veggies wherever and whenever you can will make a difference.  Limit “sit time”, encourage “fit time”, love your teenagers, and make it easier to choose healthier foods.  Electronics for Christmas!  Better health for the New Year!

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