Nobody wants their kids to watch an excessive amount of television. It could perhaps be the making of a couch potato. Researchers have said that reducing childrens’ TV and computer consumption with the aid of an electric governor that automatically restricts usage time, may indeed help overweight kids to shed excess weight.
According to the study findings, there were modest reductions in body mass index over two years among children in homes with a device placed on all TV and computer monitors. This device automatically cuts usage of TV and computers by around 50%.
The effect appeared to be by reducing calorie intake rather than by increasing physical activity, said Leonard Epstein, Ph.D, of the State University of New York at Buffalo.
This study adds strong evidence that reducing TV and computer use is effective among children at risk for obesity, commented Steven L. Gortmaker, Ph.D., of Harvard School of Public Health, in an accompanying editorial.
But “one thing parents fear when they set rules around television use is that they’re going to have to enforce them by getting into arguments every single day,” he said.
Family rules on television viewing and computer use could have similar effects as those seen in the study, but devices like the one used in the study may hold some advantages for parents, Dr. Epstein and colleagues said.
“Using technology to modify television viewing eliminates parental vigilance needed to enforce family rules,” they said, “and reduces the disciplinary action needed if a child exceeds his or her sedentary behavior limits.”
TV time has been linked to obesity in prior studies, but the few studies assessing the effect of cutting back on screen time have shown either no effect on BMI or only a slowing of BMI increase among younger children.
New innovations like this monitoring device could help parents in allowing their children to watch TV or use a computer for nothing more than 2 hours per day.