|We Can! Joins National Call for Reducing Screen
Time During Turnoff Week
Children and teens who spend more than a couple of hours a day
on average in front of a TV, video, or computer screen, are more
likely to be overweight than their peers who limit their screen
time. We Can! (Ways to Enhance Children's Activity and Nutrition),
a science-based national education program from the National Institutes
of Health (NIH) to help children ages 8-13 stay at a healthy weight,
is working with the Center for Screen Time Awareness (CSTA) and
other national and community organizations to raise public awareness
about the negative impact of excessive screen time. CSTA is a leading
nonprofit organization focused on the impact of electronic media
on society, health, education, family and community.
Turnoff Week, April 21-27, is an excellent time to start limiting
recreational screen time and boosting physical activity and healthier
"We know that the more time a child spends in front of the
TV or computer, the more likely he or she is to be overweight," said
Acting U.S. Surgeon General Steven K. Galson, M.D., M.P.H. "Kids
are spending more time sitting in front of screens every day than
they do anything else except perhaps sleeping. For Turnoff Week,
we are asking parents to turn off the screens and get active with
Although the Turnoff Week awareness campaign formally lasts only
seven days each year, Galson added, "We encourage parents
to regularly limit recreational screen time to fewer than two hours
More than 12.5 million American children and adolescents are overweight,
putting them at increased risk for chronic conditions such as high
blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, and asthma.
Recognizing the prevention of childhood overweight as a national
health priority, Galson leads the "Healthy Youth for a Healthy
Future" childhood overweight and obesity prevention initiative
and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Childhood
Overweight and Obesity Coordinating Council. The council is working
with federal agencies and community stakeholders as they develop
and foster programs such as We Can! that share the goal of providing
options for community-based interventions.
To help families make important lifestyle changes to prevent childhood
overweight, the We Can! program offers sensible, evidence-based
guidance and tips for parents to help them not only reduce screen
time, but also to encourage physical activity and better nutrition
choices. "Today more than ever, parents need help to keep
their kids at a healthy weight," said Karen A. Donato, S.M.,
program coordinator of We Can! and of the Obesity Education Initiative
of NIH's National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). "By
doing simple things like keeping TVs out of our kidsí rooms or
logging screen time to get an accurate picture of daily habits,
parents can begin to address this very real problem in a productive,
At the national launch of 2008 Turnoff Week, held at the University
of the District of Columbia, Robert Kesten, CSTA executive director,
pointed out some stark realities: "Many kids are spending
more than six hours every day in front of screens, when they really
should be spending less than two. As parents, we play a large role
in changing this reality, and Turnoff Week is a great opportunity
to start." CSTA is the leading nonprofit organization focused
on the impact of electronic media on society, health, education,
family and community. The organization provides information so
people can make intelligent decisions leading to healthier lives,
functional families and vibrant communities.
Consider the facts:
- Every day, children ages eight to 18 spend more than six hours
watching TV, playing video games or using the computer for recreational
- The more time youth spend in front of the screen, the more
likely they are to be overweight.
- Overweight is highest among children watching four or more
hours a day.
- Research has shown that children who reduced their screen time
showed decreases in body mass index (BMI), which measures body
fat related to height, and decreases in unhealthy weight gain.
We Can! offers the following tips for parents:
- Agree to limit screen time to no more than 2 hours a day.
- Donít put a TV in your childís bedroom.
- Make screen time, active time by doing simple exercises during
- Take a family walk after dinner instead of turning on the TV.
- Turn off the TV and play ball at the park.
Parents and others can download a free screen time log to help
assess the amount of time children and other family members spend
watching TV, playing video games, or using the computer for recreational
purposes. The log sheets and other strategies to limit family screen
time are part of the We Can! curriculum for parents, "We Can! Energize
Our Families," which is offered by hundreds of community sites
In addition to ideas for parents to turn screen time into active
time, We Can! offers lessons for youth to adapt healthier lifestyles,
including the Student Media Awareness to Reduce Television (SMART)
curriculum and Media Smart Youth: Eat, Think, and Be Active! A
Curriculum for Youth. Four NIH Institutes have combined their unique
resources and activities to create We Can!: the National Heart,
Lung, and Blood Institute; the National Institute of Diabetes and
Digestive and Kidney Diseases; the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National
Institute of Child Health and Human Development; and the National
Cancer Institute. We Can! is unique among existing youth obesity-prevention
initiatives in its focus on reaching parents and families as a
primary group for influencing young people. The program offers
flexible, turnkey resources complete with partnership ideas and
outreach opportunities to unite community organizations.
For more information, on We Can!, visit http://wecan.nhlbi.nih.gov or
call toll-free 866-35-WE CAN (866-359-3226).
To arrange an interview with Ms. Donato, contact the NHLBI Communications
Office at (301) 496-4236 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To interview Dr. Galson, call (202) 205-0143. To speak with Mr.
Kesten or for more information about CSTA, call 202-333-9220 or
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's
Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and
Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting
and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research,
and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both
common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and
its programs, visit www.nih.gov.
NOTES TO MEDIA:
For broadcast media: A bites/b-roll package including sound bites from Acting U.S. Surgeon General Rear Admiral Galson will be fed on the following days and times:
Tuesday, April 15, 10:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Eastern time and Friday, April 18, 10:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Eastern time
Satellite Name: Horizon 2, 74.05 Degrees West
Transponder: 19 vertical (analog KU band)
Downlink Frequency: 12140 Mhz.
For general questions regarding the newsfeed, contact Jem Haskin at Tribalco, LLC, at 301-652-8450 ext. 102. For interviews, contact the NHLBI Communications Office at 301-496-4236.