This article was produced and financed by Oslo Metropolitan University
Remove TV from children’s bedrooms
Obesity among European pre-schoolers is hitting record levels. TV-watching and computer games should be replaced by active play, both at home and in the day cares.
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Oslo Metropolitan University
More than one in eight children in Northern Europe is overweight when they start school. The number rises to 25 percent in parts of Southern Europe.
According to figures from the European research project ToyBox, 38 percent of girls in preschools in Spain are classified as overweight or obese.
The record levels of obesity lead to great health issues in addition to exerting high expenditure on society.
Researchers from ten countries participate in ToyBox. The research project started in 2010 and will end in 2014.
The researchers will test and develop measures to promote healthy eating habits and physical activities in kindergartens in six EU-countries. The reaserchers are also concerned with TV-watching and the use of computer games.
The kindergartens are in Belgium, Germany, Spain, Greece, Bulgaria and Poland.
A need for new measures
“We need a new approach to prevent obesity,” says Yannis Manios, Project Coordinator and Assistant Professor at Harokopio University in Athens.
“We found that many countries are in lack of clear guidelines on healthy eating and active play,” she continues. “However, good research evidence link sedentary behaviour like TV watching, with subsequent obesity”.
Children are naturally energetic, but reduce their energy expenditure when they spend time in front of a TV.
“TV-watching in kindergartens should therefore be replaced by more active, fun activities that may contribute to helping children to achieve optimal growth, health and well-being,” Manios points out.
She emphasises that this should also apply at home: “ TVs in the bedroom and unhealthy snacks in the kitchen cupboard are bad ideas. Parents should also remember that their role is not only to provide healthy food and drink options but to act as role models themselves, since kids are copying their behaviours”.