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Children’s Hospital Obesity Experts Say TV Turnoff Week Is a Great Way To Embark on a Healthier Lifestyle for the Whole Family

April 23–29 is National TV Turnoff Week

Childhood obesity experts at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC urge kids and parents to make a family resolution to get active and stay healthy by turning off televisions, computers and video games during National TV Turnoff Week.

National TV Turnoff Week runs from April 23–29 and is a program aimed at getting children more active and away from television, video games and computers. TV Turnoff Week was started in 1995 by the national nonprofit advocacy group Center for SCREEN-TIME Awareness whose goal is to promote “screen-free time” and healthy lifestyles.

“TV Turnoff Week is a great first step for families to introduce a healthier lifestyle as part of their daily routine,” said Goutham Rao, MD, clinical director  of the Weight Management and Wellness Center at Children’s. “With TV and video games not available, kids will find more productive ways to spend their time including reading, playing outside and spending time with family. Parents rarely realize how much of their child’s day is devoted to screen time until it is taken away entirely. In fact, in the average American home the television is on for well over eight hours every day.”

Recent statistics show that the number of morbidly obese people is rising at a steady and alarming rate. Turning off the TV is one of Dr. Rao’s five suggestions to help halt the upward trend of childhood obesity. “The Big Five” are simple changes that every family can easily integrate into their daily lives that will help reverse the childhood obesity epidemic, according to Dr. Rao.

The percentage of children who are overweight has more than doubled among young children ages 2 to 5 years and has nearly tripled among students 6 to 19 years old since 1980, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly 9 million children in the United States over the age of 6 are now considered obese.

Dr. Rao’s “Big Five” are:

  • Limit or eliminate consumption of sweet beverages (regular pop, fruit juice, sports drinks, etc.)
  • Limit the frequency of fast food consumption to no more than once per week
  • Limit children’s media time (TV, Internet, video games) to no more than two hours per day
  • Encourage children to eat dinner with at least one parent at least three evenings a week
  • Encourage children to engage in at least 30 minutes a day of “habitual” physical activity such as walking, playing tag or playing sports with friends, in addition to gym classes, etc.

In 2006, more than 10 million people participated in TV Turnoff Week. In addition to television, video games and computers for non-school related activities are off-limits. Ninety percent of people who participate say they now watch less TV or watch more selectively as a result of participating.

Learn more about Children’s Weight Management and Wellness Center.


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

Last Update
April 11, 2014
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Last Update
April 11, 2014