Creating Active Families, Curbing Screen Time, Boosting Sleep
Children need to get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day, and parents can help kids achieve that goal in many ways. Setting limits on television (TV) and other screen time—no more than two hours a day—is just as important as staying active. A good night’s sleep may also help children stay at a healthy weight.
Here is a summary of physical activity, screen time, and sleep-related obesity prevention recommendations for parents and families, based on a review of expert guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Institute of Medicine, and others. For more detailed guidance on these recommendations and ideas for putting them into practice, explore the source list and the links to other resources.
|Be active as a family, choosing activities that family members of all ages and abilities can enjoy (1,2,3,4)|
|Model active lifestyles for children by becoming more physically active and by limiting sedentary activities, such as television watching (1,2,3,5,6)|
|Promote safe physical activity, such as having children wear bicycle helmets (1,2,6)|
|Give children gifts that encourage physical activity (2,4,6)|
|Walk or bike to school with children (3,4)|
|Encourage children to play outside (1,2)|
|Help children play on a sports team or try a new physical activity (1,4,6)|
|Limit children’s TV viewing and recreational screen time (computers, DVDs, video games)|
|Make children’s bedrooms TV-free, by not putting a TV in the bedroom or removing televisions that are there(2,4,6,7)|
|Avoid putting an Internet connection in children’s bedrooms (8)|
|Turn off the television during mealtimes (9)|
|Ensure children get adequate sleep, and establish healthy sleep habits early on (4,7,10)|
1. American Academy of Pediatrics – Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness and Council on School Health Policy Statement. Active healthy living: prevention of childhood obesity through increased physical activity. Pediatrics. 2006;117:1834-42.
2. Institute of Medicine. Preventing Childhood Obesity: Health in the Balance. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press; 2005.
3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Surgeon General’s Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation 2010 Rockville: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Surgeon General; 2010.
4. Let’s Move. Active Families. 2011. Accessed January 30, 2012.
5. American Heart Association. Overweight in Children. 2011. Accessed January 30, 2012.
6. American Academy of Pediatrics. Prevention and Treatment of Childhood Overweight and Obesity: What families can do. 2011. Accessed January 30, 2012.
7. White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity. Solving the Problem of Childhood Obesity within a Generation: White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity Report to the President: White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity; 2010.
8. Strasburger VC. Children, adolescents, obesity, and the media. Pediatrics. 2011;128:201-8.
9. Let’s Move. Reduce Screen Time and Get Active. 2011. Accessed January 30, 2012.
The aim of the Harvard School of Public Health Obesity Prevention Source Web site is to provide timely information about obesity’s global causes, consequences, prevention, and control, for the public, health and public health practitioners, business and community leaders, and policymakers. The contents of this Web site are not intended to offer personal medical advice. You should seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Web site. The Web site’s obesity prevention policy recommendations are based primarily on a review of U.S. expert guidance, unless otherwise indicated; in other countries, different policy approaches may be needed to achieve improvements in food and physical activity environments, so that healthy choices are easy choices, for all.