Thursday, July 17, 2008

Parents! Are Your Kids in Front of the TV?

Do you realize what kids are watching on TV? First they're sitting there rather than being active. And they're watching advertising pushing food, beverages and candy—aimed straight at them. And, that’s just for starters.

  • Children ages 8 to 12 see an average of 21 television ads each day for candy, snacks, cereal and fast food, more than 7,600 a year.
  • More than 50 percent of television advertisements directed at children promote food and beverages such as candy, fast food, snack foods, soft drinks and sweetened cereals. In fact, in 2005, The Center for Science in the Public Interest reported that nine in 10 food ads on Saturday morning promoted high-fat, high-salt, high-sugar, or low-nutrient foods.
  • On Saturday mornings, children see one food commercial about every 5 minutes.
  • Food and beverage advertisers collectively spend $10 to $12 billion a year to reach children and youth.
  • And this is really scary—36 percent of all children 6 years old and under have a TV in their bedroom. A preschooler's risk for obesity increases by 6 percent for every hour of TV watched per day—and if there's a TV in the child's bedroom, the odds jump an additional 31 percent for each hour watched.

Now we’re informed that for the first time an influential doctors group, The American Academy of Pediatrics, is recommending that some children as young as 8 be given cholesterol-fighting drugs to ward off future heart problems. Add to this the fact that during the last 30 years, the number of obese children in the United States has more than tripled. According to the American Obesity Association, about 15 percent are now obese and 30 percent are overweight. A report in The New England Journal of Medicine says that, "Obesity is such that this generation of children could be the first basically in the history of the United States to live less healthful and shorter lives than their parents."

This is an epidemic of our making. It’s also one we can turn around.

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