• Screen time is the time spent using a device such as watching TV, working on a computer, or playing video games. 
  • There is a clear relationship between screen time and obesity. The more time you spend in front of a screen the higher the risk of being obese. 
  • 60% of the 4-year incidence of overweight was estimated to be attributable to excess television viewing.[1]


How screen time may lead to childhood obesity 

Screen time can lead to childhood obesity by a combination of one or more of the following

mechanisms [2]

  • Decreased physical activity
  • Increased energy intake
  • Increased sedentary behavior
  • Exposure to food advertising
  • Reduced sleep time


American Academy of pediatrics recommendations 2016:

  • For children younger than 18 months, avoid use of screen media other than video chatting. Parents of children 18 to 24 months of age who want to introduce digital media should choose high-quality programming and watch it with their children to help them understand what they are seeing.[3]
  • For children ages 2 to 5 years, limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programs. Parents should co-view media with children to help them understand what they are seeing and apply it to the world around them.[3]
  • For children ages 6 and older, place consistent limits on the time spent using media, and the types of media, and make sure media does not take the place of adequate sleep, physical activity and other behaviors essential to health.[3]


  1. Gortmaker, S.L., et al., Television viewing as a cause of increasing obesity among children in the United States, 1986-1990. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med, 1996. 150(4): p. 356-62.
  2. Zhang, G., et al., Television watching and risk of childhood obesity: a meta-analysis. Eur J Public Health, 2016. 26(1): p. 13-8.
  3. American Academy of Pediatrics Announces New Recommendations for Children’s Media Use. 2016; Available from: https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/American-Academy-of-Pediatrics-Announces-New-Recommendations-for-Childrens-Media-Use.aspx.






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