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For Immediate Release

National TV Turnoff Week Also Means Putting Aside Video Games For Some Fresh Air and Exercise, Children's Hospital Obesity Experts Say

By encouraging families to turn off their televisions, computers and video games during National TV Turnoff Week, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh obesity experts are promoting a healthier lifestyle for the entire family.

National TV Turnoff Week runs from April 24 - 30, 2006, and is a program aimed at getting children more active by turning off the television. TV Turnoff Week started in 1995 by the national nonprofit advocacy group TV Turnoff Network, whose goal is to promote a TV-free and healthy lifestyle.

Obesity among kids has more than tripled in the last two decades, with nearly 15 percent of all children now considered overweight or obese, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children spend an average of three hours per day watching TV and adults average four hours, according to the TV Turnoff Network.

"Inactivity plays a major role in the childhood obesity epidemic we are now facing in the United States," said Goutham Rao, MD, clinical director of the Weight Management and Wellness Center at Children's. "Often we talk about the need for families to eat healthy and balanced meals, but just as important is the need for activity, whether it be walking, biking, playing sports or any other physical activity a child enjoys."

A lot of the time that children should spend participating in physical activities is now being spent in front of the TV, computer screen, or playing video games. In fact, 40 percent of Americans say that they always or often watch television while eating dinner.

"TV Turnoff Week is a great way for families to introduce a healthier lifestyle as part of their daily routine," said Dr. Rao, also an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. "By only committing to turning off the TV for a week, families can incrementally begin to see the benefits of being active. We encourage our patient families to do things together, like a family bike ride. That way, the family is getting exercise and also spending quality time together."

More than 24 million people have participated in TV Turnoff Week since its inception. Television is not the only thing banned during the week. Also off-limits this year are video games and computers for non-school related activities. Ninety percent of people who participate say they now watch less TV or watch more selectively as a result of participating.

For more information on Children's Weight Management and Wellness Center, please visit

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

Last Update
February 18, 2008
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Last Update
February 18, 2008