Tuesday, November 29, 2011

How much is too much TV?

Researchers agree that children should watch no more than two hours of carefully selected television programs a day to achieve optimum health and wellbeing.

CSIRO Project Coordinator, Jane Bowen, said the two-hour guideline was the result of significant scientific studies and would potentially encourage families to be more physically active.

'This recommendation should be viewed as a maximum amount of time - less than two hours is certainly preferable to support a healthy lifestyle, ' Ms Bowen said.

'We found that children who watch television for more than two hours a day are more likely to be overweight, be less physically active, drink more sugary drinks and snack on unhealthy foods.'

Dr Aric Sigman, an associate fellow of the British Psychological Society, said his analysis of 35 scientific studies over the past decade showed it was important for parents to monitor the types of programs children watch.

'There is some evidence that flickering television shows like cartoons and commercials can harm eyesight and potentially cause short-sightedness, particularly in children,' Dr Sigman said.

'Excessive television viewing is also associated with irregular sleeping patterns because it suppresses the production of the hormone melatonin, which has important functions in the immune system and sleep cycle.

'Parents could help offset these potential health risks by actively monitoring their child 's television consumption and allow only good quality programming within recommended time limits.'

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