LOS ANGELES – Less screen time and more physical activity for children ages 5 and under is the focus of a major public education campaign announced by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health in its ongoing effort to reduce childhood obesity rates in the country.
The campaign – designed to empower parents, caregivers and children to be more active – comes amid recent studies showing children are spending more than seven hours a day in front of television, computer or mobile device screens and that two-thirds of children are not physically active every day.
“The road to a healthy life and proper body weight involves much less time spent in front of a screen,” said LA County Interim Health Officer, Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, MD, MPH. “We continue to have a serious childhood obesity problem in LA County, but we can reverse the trend if we start good habits early. Along with healthy food and properly sized portions, healthy activities that exercise both the body and the brain are necessary to chart a brighter future for the youngest members of our communities.”
At a news conference at Toberman Park, a First 5 Los Angeles Tot Park, Public Health officials unveiled a series of digital videos and advertisements that will be appearing in movie theaters, online, in public transit locations, on the radio, and in other strategic sites around the County.
Officials were joined by fitness experts who demonstrated easy physical activities for parents to do with their children for a few minutes every day while breaking away from screens – TV, tablets and mobile phones – either in the home or at a local park.
“We know increased physical activity is strongly tied to children’s emotional wellbeing and academic achievement. Helping the children in LA County choose health by encouraging physical activity and reduced screen time is an important step in building healthier families, neighborhoods and communities,” said Armando Jimenez, Director of Research and Evaluation for First 5 LA, a leading early childhood advocacy and public grantmaking organization, which provided a grant to help research and fund the media campaign.
“This campaign advances our effort to reduce the rates of childhood obesity and create communities where all children and families thrive.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that screen time for kids should be limited to one or two hours a day, with no screen time for children under two years of age. Officials said parents should recognize the impact of children’s exposure to “screens” as more programming is aimed at children on tablets and mobile devices in addition to televisions and computers. Children who watch more than two hours a day of TV are more likely to be overweight and often suffer from irregular sleep patterns.
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To learn more about the Department of Public Health and the work we do, visit PublicHealth.LACounty.gov, or our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/lapublichealth. You can find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/lapublichealth, or follow us on Twitter: @LAPublicHealth.