Limiting TV Helps Fight Childhood Obesity Epidemic
April 21, 2006
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Childhood obesity is an epidemic with serious health consequences, but part of the solution may be as simple as limiting the amount of television children watch, according to local health officials. More than 40 percent of Contra Costa children seen at county health centers are overweight or at risk of being overweight, said Dr. Diane Dooley, a pediatrician who chairs the pediatrics department at the county's Contra Costa Regional Medical Center (CCRMC) and Health Centers.
"Nearly half of children who are overweight remain overweight as adults. As we know, adults who are overweight and obese are more likely to be depressed, have chronic health problems, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, and suffer from heart attack and stroke," Dr. Dooley said.
Watching too much TV is directly linked to major contributors of obesity - lack of exercise and poor nutrition. Health advocates and concerned community members are tackling the issue with a television reduction campaign called "Parents Have the Power to Limit TV" that runs April 24-28 at all eight county health centers and CCRMC.
Health care providers will be giving informational materials to parents about the problems associated with too much TV and providing alternative activity ideas for children. Parents should limit their children to no more than two hours a day of television or video games.
Children who agree to participate in the campaign will be eligible for prizes, such as beach balls and jump ropes. As part of the campaign, Contra Costa Health Services' Child Health Disability Prevention Program also will set up display tables at the health centers with information about the importance of limiting TV and having health insurance for children.
Registered Dietician Mary Jane Kiefer with Contra Costa Health Services' Women, Infant and Children (WIC) supplemental nutritional program designed the educational materials for the campaign. Families CAN, a community coalition that works on pediatric obesity issues, sponsored the campaign through a grant from Kaiser Permanente.
For more information, contact Sally McFalone at firstname.lastname@example.org or 925-313-6242.
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- Sally McFalone