Friday, July 15, 2011

Does the media influence our kids' food choices?

                          From the desk of Kim Gubbins,
       Nurse Practitioner and Nutrition Consultant
Ever notice how many commercials are specifically geared towards our children?  Media has a huge influence on all of us.   Whatever slant the media puts on our news coverage will help shape our opinions.   We’ll try something new on the store shelves that we saw on tv. If it influences our decisions, how powerfully it impacts our kids!  

Screen time is negatively influencing children in many ways and keeping them from the recommended amount of daily exercise. American children are spending entirely too much time in front of a television or computer. The American Academy of Pediatrics [AAP] recommends two hours or less of screen time daily. Screen time is defined as time watching television, surfing the internet and playing video games combined.

Pediatric Health strongly recommends that parents require their child to have 60 minutes of exercise before watching any TV and when the TV, computer or video game gets turned on, it is turned off after 2 hours (total for all three).
Dr. Victor Strasburger, author of the new policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that Congress and the Federal Trade Commission get tough on fast food advertising to our children. He noted that by banning such advertising that there would be a 17% reduction in the obesity rate for our children according to one study that was performed.

We all know how hard it is to take off extra pounds. Food can be as much an addiction as cigarettes. In just a generation obesity among young people has shot up three-fold. The Federal Trade Commission acknowledges that childhood obesity is the most serious health crisis facing our kids. One in 6 children are overweight or obese today. One third of kids eat fast food on any given day according to the AAP and amounts to over $110 billion dollars spent on unhealthy food choices.
Kim Gubbins

Fast food advertisers spent $4.2 billion on ads in 2009. One study found that kids shown fast food ads while watching their favorite cartoons actually ate 45% more junk food!

Another strong recommendation from the AAP, is no television or computer in a child's bedroom. Parents, we have all heard this before, but why? Why do the people who care about your child's health not want them to be watching TV or on a computer in their room? Research tells us that child are exposed to many unnecessary and unhealthy viewing regarding sex, violence, junk food, etc. on TV. A new report states that preschoolers who watch TV in their room took a longer time falling asleep and woke up more drowsy in the morning. Additionally, children who spent only 30 minutes of screen time viewing before bed were 28% more likely to have sleep difficulties compared to 19% who had no screen time. Violent content, no matter what time during the day it was viewed by a child can also greatly affect their sleep.

As parents we are diligent to use sunscreen on our kids to prevent skin cancer. We use environmentally friendly products to make our surroundings less toxic. We’ve enacted laws to reduce the amount of second hand smoke we are exposed to. All are done in an effort to help us lead healthier lives. But it’s hard to avoid fast food. Our busy schedules often prevent us from having time to cook a meal let alone get the whole family together to eat. And many times it’s just easier to let the kids have whatever they want instead of listening to them whine.

In an ideal world we would recommend to avoid all junk food. But in reality we recommend that you limit fast food meals to once a week and reduce the amount of junk food you buy for the kids to munch on.

If your child is struggling with weight problems consider having a nutrition consult with one of our nurse practitioners. During this visit she will assess current eating habits and help set goals by making lifestyle changes. Making small changes adds up. The payofff is less empty calories and a reduction in future health problems like diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol.

You may find more information on helping your child with weight issues at:

http://pediatrics.about.com/cs/obesity/l/aa012503a.htm

http://kidshealth.org/parent/general/body/overweight_obesity.html

http://www.eatright.org/kids/

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/06/27/us-fastfood-ads-idUSTRE75Q0K820110627

http://www.npr.org/2011/07/11/137670547/social-networks-thinking-of-the-children

1 comment:

Find a Physician said...

Thank you for spending some time and sharing this information with all of us. It was in fact very beneficial and insightful while being straight forward and to the point.