Four Ways to Curb Your Child's TV Snacking

Filed under: Big Kids, Tweens, Health & Safety: Babies, Nutrition: Health

A study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior examines how food advertising aimed at kids may play a large role in why so many Canadian children are carrying extra weight.

Researchers at the University of California found that on a typical Saturday morning -- prime time for children's TV watching -- a whopping 5,724 commercials were shown. In this 7-10 a.m. time slot, 20.3 percent of the total commercials revolved around food. This worked out to a rate of one food commercial every eight minutes. Of these food commercials, more than 70 percent of them were focused on fast food, chips, crackers and sugar-added beverages. And 34 percent of them were targeted at 'food on the run.'

Much research has shown that young children are very gullible when it comes to believing what they see. For example, some pediatricians had a hard time encouraging fish consumption amongst little ones when Finding Nemo hit the screen. Being aware of this, we really can set up some guidelines to limit our children's exposure to fast food advertisements on every corner.

Four tips on curbing your kid's TV appetite after the jump...


1. Limit TV time: 30-60 minutes a day is perfect. Less is better.

2. Screen your TV channels: Encourage more discovery and educational shows.

3. Explain to your children the difference between 'everyday' food and 'sometimes' food: If children understand how a food will personally benefit them at their particular age, they will be more inclined to want it, or in the other case, avoid it.

4. Make a "no eating in front of the TV " rule:
Insist that your TV goes off during all family meals. This allows for time where you can talk to your kids without any distractions and bond with them over what's going on in their lives.

Karla Heintz is a Nutrition Educator and author of Picky? Not Me, Mom! A Parents' Guide to Children's Nutrition. She appears nationally on TV and radio pertaining to topics about health and wellness.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.