Fighting Childhood Obesity One TV at a Time
How eating in front of the TV can contribute to childhood obesity, and how to get your kids to stop
In this world of TV dinners and TiVo, many Americans seem more inclined to eat from a dining tray than the dinner table. Though you may think that dinnertime is the perfect opportunity to catch up on your favorite shows, research has shown that eating in front of the TV can actually increase the number of calories you ultimately consume.
The quest to end childhood obesity in Fayetteville and across America has many facets, and where our children eat may be one of them. Studies suggest that children become less sensitive to signals from their bodies that indicate fullness when eating in front of the TV, so changing this habit may prove a valuable strategy in preventing childhood obesity. The problem comes not just during meals, but from snacks scarfed while watching TV as well.
If you’re ready to keep your children and yourself away from the tempting trap of TV-centric eating, start with these tips:
Make dinner television-free time.
Many households enjoy nightly family dinners and use the time to talk and laugh with one another. TV can distract from this opportunity, so try making a household rule to keep the TV turned off during every meal. Even a TV left on in the background can be distracting, so be sure to keep all the screens dark whenever you sit down at the table.
Encourage alternate activities.
Today’s children are often so surrounded by screens and technology that it may seem natural to always turn to the TV for entertainment, and snacking may be soon to follow. Try introducing your child to a new activity that doesn’t involve the TV screen. TV time can easily turn into outdoor activity time, and your child can find new ways to relax that don’t involve a screen. You can even try playing a board game before or after dinner to encourage your child to focus his or her attention away from the TV during mealtime.
Limit your child’s access to TV.
These days, many kids have TVs in their rooms, but this will likely only boost the amount of TV time your child gets. You also won’t be able to watch their eating habits as closely. Try keeping TVs or computers only in common areas of your house or setting rules that limit the amount of TV your child can watch each day.
Limiting TV time can also help you limit your child’s calorie intake and introduce them to other activities. How else do you set limits on the amount of TV your children watch, or keep them from munching during shows?