While a child is watching TV, they watch about 10 to 13 commercials daily promoting foods and beverages that often do not meet nutrition recommendations set for children. These ads are promoting fast food or junk food that is high in saturated fats, sodium, and calories. Research from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) says kids watching these ads are meant to be persuaded to want to taste the product. Eating these types of non-nutritious foods can lead to a disease becoming more and more common for kids.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), obesity is continuing to rise in the United States for children and is currently at about 18.5%. Also, there are positive correlations shown between TV time and obesity rates in children. AND states that as unhealthy food TV ads directed towards kids has increased since the 1970’s, the rate of obesity in kids has tripled.
Encouraging healthy eating behaviors for kids can change the cravings kids get. If children are not exposed to the choices of fast food or junk food, then they will likely continue to want the nutritious food choices offered at home.
4 ways to encourage healthier TV habits:
- Use a program that does not show commercials. There are many different programs that do not have advertisements including Netflix, DVDs, and more.
- Limit the amount of TV/electronic time. According to the AAP, children 2 to 5 years should watch 1 hour or less of TV time per day. Children ages 6 and older should limit TV viewing to around 2 hours per day. Encourage children to be active and use their imagination to play.
- Do not allow children to eat and watch electronics/TV. Have kids eat all meals and snacks in the kitchen without electronics. This is important so that kids can pay attention to what they are eating and prevent overeating by listening to when they are full. Family meals can help decrease the risk of obesity by having a healthy effect on children’s eating habits.
- Find activities for children to do besides watching TV/being on electronics. Have kids help prepare meals, have kids play outside, or have kids play board games or puzzles.
TV advertisements can lead to unhealthy food choices wanted by children, which ultimately can lead to obesity. Following the tips provided may lead a child to healthier habits related to TV and nutrition.