TV time, kids & overweight

Written by Catherine Saxelby on Wednesday, 07 November 2012.
Tagged: children, guides, healthy eating, kids, obesity, overweight, tips, weight loss

TV time, kids & overweight

Fighting the rising numbers of overweight and obesity among our children - now estimated to be more than one in four - is not just about food. Physical activity and what influences food choices also play a significant role. This where TV comes in.

Australian children are watching on average 3 hours of TV a day. That's 3 hours a day spent just sitting/lying being inactive! Children use up less energy when they watch TV than many other so-called inactive pursuits, including reading and playing computer games.

Three hours of TV a day also exposes kids to over 20,000 TV ads a year - higher than the US or UK. And many ads are for food - more than 80 per cent of which are for unhealthy high fat, sugar or salt products.

Pester power

We all know pester power makes children powerful influencers of the family's shop. Food marketers know it too. That's why billions of dollars are spent each year on advertising by the junk food industry.

Teachers complain of the impact late night TV viewing has on school performance. Plus excessive TV viewing can affect skills such as speech, thinking, problem solving, attention, and socialising.

6 ways to limit TV viewing by parents

Young Media Australia, a national lobby group looking at the media and its effects on children recommends turning off the TV completely. Here's what you can do:

  • Cut back on total TV viewing time - no more than 1 hour a day
  • Remove the TV from your kid's bedroom
  • Avoid commercial TV for preschoolers and limit it for older children
  • Encourage non-commercial TV such as the ABC
  • Pre-record favoured commercial programs and fast forward the ads
  • Play "spot the gimmick" in TV ads teaching your kids to be sceptical about claims made in advertising
  • Say no to those foods advertised on TV. 

More information

Catherine Saxelby

About the Author

Catherine Saxelby has the answers! She is an accredited nutritionist, blogger and award-winning author. Her latest book Nutrition for Life 2020 Edition is a fresh new update on all the things you've read about or heard in the last year. Think insects, collagen, vegan eating, Keto dieting, vitamin B12, fast food and cafe culture.  It has plenty of colour pictures and is easy to dip in and out of. Grab your copy NOW!