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For Immediate Release

Experts at Children's Hospital Say Turning Off the TV is the First Step to Preventing Obesity and Creating Healthy Lifestyles

April 25 - May 1 is National TV Turnoff Week

Experts in childhood obesity at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh are encouraging families to turn off their televisions next week as part of national effort to promote healthy lifestyles.

Children's is encouraging families to participate in the annual national TV Turnoff Week, April 25 - May 1, 2005. TV Turnoff Week was started in 1995 by the national nonprofit advocacy group TV Turnoff Network to promote rewarding and healthful TV-free lifestyles.

"Childhood obesity is epidemic in the United States and a sedentary lifestyle is one of the major culprits. We want to encourage kids and families to watch less TV and exercise more, not just this week but every week," said Goutham Rao, MD, clinical director of the Center for Weight Management and Wellness at Children's.

Obesity among kids has more than tripled in the last two decades, with nearly 15 percent of all children now considered obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Contributing to this epidemic is a lack of physical activity among young children and adolescents, Dr. Rao said. On average, Americans watch more than four hours of TV a day, according to the TV Turnoff Network. More than 30 percent of children between the ages of 2 and 6 have a television in their bedroom.

"Parents should use TV Turnoff Week as an opportunity to find an activity they can enjoy with their kids," Dr. Rao said. "It doesn't have to be structured exercise. It can be any activity like playing a sport, walking the dog or going on a family bike-ride. Not only does it promote a healthy lifestyle, but it gives the family an opportunity to spend quality time together."

The benefits of turning off the television are substantial. "Children who watch less TV sleep better, eat better, read more, do better in school and weigh less," Dr. Rao added.

The surge in childhood obesity has lead to a rise in a number of related diseases including type 2 diabetes and metabolic, cardiac, pulmonary, sleep, behavior and learning dysfunction.

For more information about childhood obesity or Children's Center for Weight Management and Wellness, please visit Children's Web site at

Marc Lukasiak, 412-692-5016 or 412-692-7919,
Melanie Finnigan, 412-692-5016 or 412-692-5502,

Last Update
February 19, 2008
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Last Update
February 19, 2008