Device restricting screen time helps keep kids' weight lower

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted March 24, 2008

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A device limiting the amount of time an overweight child can spend watching television and using a computer reduces sedentary behavior, food intake and body mass index, according to a study in the March Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Researchers randomized 70 children ages 4 to 7 with BMIs over the 75th percentile to either have such a device installed in their home or to have their screen time monitored. After two years, those who received the intervention cut the time they spent in front of a computer or television by 17½ hours per week and decreased their BMI by 0.24. The amount of food consumed also went down.

By comparison, the control group decreased their screen time by only slightly more than 5 hours. Their BMI went up by 0.05, and there was no change in food intake. "Although the changes overall were modest ... using this simple and inexpensive intervention magnified across the population may produce important reductions in obesity and obesity-related health problems," said Leonard H. Epstein, PhD, lead author and distinguished professor of pediatrics, health behavior and social and preventive medicine at the University at Buffalo in New York.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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