Media and Obesity: 10 Ways to Raise Healthy, Active Kids

I just wrote a post about the latest policy statement on media and obesity from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Screen media isn't inherently a health risk - it just needs to be kept in balance with healthy activities and plenty of fruits and vegetables. Check out these tips:

  • Take screens out of your children's bedrooms. When a child has a screen in his or her bedroom, screen time goes up and quality of sleep goes down.
  • Set limits on the amount of time that children spend with screen media. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends: zero hours of entertainment media for children under 2, one hour a day for pre-school aged children, and two hours a day for school-aged children and teens.
  • If you are well over the recommendations, make a screen time goal that makes sense for your family. Try decreasing a half hour every week!
  • Create an "activity jar" with your kids. When allotted screen time is up, pull an activity from the jar!
  • If you work more than one job or odd hours, plug your kids into free or subsidized programs in your community that emphasize healthy activities and screen-free fun.
  • Discuss food advertising with your children. What sorts of foods does their body and brain need to be healthy? What messages are they hearing on TV?
  • Have your kids create their own food advertisements and shows! What about one that features interviews with local gardeners or farmers? That details the life of a vegetable? The options are endless.
  • Find fun recipes that include vegetables and fruits. Cook with your kids! Ask your teenager to be in charge or a meal for the whole family and help them work out a nutritious menu.
  • Figure out what is going on in your community - explore local parks and other free community resources that get kids off the couch and into the world.
  • Encourage your children to play 'exergames' and other active video games like Dance Dance Revolution and Wii Sports.
Here are some ideas for filling up those screen-free summer hours:
How do you stay healthy and active in your family?
Dr. Dave Walsh