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Kids, Turn Off the TV

Filed Under: Baby and Child Health,Health Concerns & Ailments at 6:00 am | By: Mauricio Matusiak, Senior Editor

A recent study shows too many hours spent in front of TV, computer and video game screens may increase the risk of heart disease in children. Researchers say that when kids engage in screen time, they are likely to eat more, which probably explains the excess caloric consumption. The study was conducted by an inter-university research team from the University of Ottawa, Universite de Montreal, Concordia University, Universite Laval and McGill University.

The study showed a negative association between screen time and the heart health of kids. Participants who had more than two hours of screen time daily consumed more calories than kids who met the recommended guidelines of at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity daily. Walking quickly, skating and bike riding are examples of moderate aerobic activities, while running, basketball and soccer are examples of vigorous-intensity activities.

The study found that screen time was linked to lower levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the good cholesterol, which seems to help protect against heart disease.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, American children and adolescents spend 22 to 28 hours per week viewing television, more than any other activity except sleeping. By the age of 70 they will have spent 7 to 10 years of their lives watching TV. So, parents should encourage healthier habits for kids, including limited TV and screen time.

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