State Health Announces First Statewide TV-Turnoff Week

"The goal of the TV-Turnoff Week is to bring home the message to children and families throughout New York that less screen time and more physical activity will lead to a healthier lifestyle," says Dr. Daines.

ALBANY, NY, March 28, 2007 - State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D. today announced in conjunction with The Center for SCREEN-TIME Awareness, that the first statewide TV-Turnoff Week in New York will be held from April 23rd through 28th to coincide with the National TV-Turnoff Week.

TV-Turnoff Week promotes a week free of television, DVDs, video games and computers. In addition, libraries, community based organizations, and after school programs will be supporting the TV-Turnoff Week by offering a number of fun, active alternatives for children and their assist families. Event organizer kits have been sent to all New York State school principals to encourage and help with their schools participation in this event.

"The goal of the TV-Turnoff Week is to bring home the message to children and families throughout New York that less screen time and more physical activity will lead to a healthier lifestyle," said Dr. Daines. "We are encouraging parents, schools and the community to develop events and programs that will energize children to turnoff the television or computer and get them involved in the activities that will help them better manage their lifestyles and health."

"Turning off the television gives us a chance to think, read, create, and do. To connect with our families and engage in our communities. To turn off TV and turn on life," said Robert Kesten, Executive Director of the Center for SCREEN-TIME Awareness.

The Department's promotion of the TV-Turnoff initiative will include 15 training sessions throughout New York on the best methods to motive and participate in the TV-Turnoff Week. Robert Kesten will be the featured speaker at these training sessions. The training provides an array of information designed to maximize use of the organizer's kit, the overall value of universal screen-time reduction and how to energize the community into action.

Facts About Television Viewing:

  • The average American home has the television on for well over eight hours every day. That is an hour more than just a decade ago;
  • The average American watches 4 hours and 35 minutes of television each day; and,
  • Young people 12-17 years of age increased their television viewing by 3% just this year.

(source: Nielsen 2006)

Additional research has shown that preschoolers (ages 1-4) risk of being overweight increased by 6% for every hour of television watched per day. If a child has a TV in his or her bedroom, the odds of being overweight increase by an additional 31% for every hour watched.

For every hour of television children watch each day, their risk of developing attention-related problems later increases by 10% percent. For example, if a child watches three hours of television each day, the child would be 30% percent more likely to develop attention deficit disorder.

The more TV preschoolers watch, the less well they do later in the first grade; also, the more TV preschoolers watch, the less well-socialized they are in the first grade.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than one to two hours of screen-time use for children 2 years and older. Excessive television viewing and screen time is associated with increased violence, less nutritious meals and snacks and increased risk of obesity. Television viewing increases exposure to advertisements for high-fat, high-sugar and high-calorie foods. Children and adolescents who have a television in their bedroom are at even greater risk of being overweight.

Obesity in children and adolescents is reaching epidemic levels in the U. S. Obesity is a health problem, resulting in adult disease, such as type 2 diabetes and hypertension, showing up in children and adolescents and shortening their life span.

To learn more about TV-Turnoff Week, or training opportunities, visit the Center for SCREEN-TIME Awareness web site at: www.tv-turnoff.org For more information about preventing childhood obesity or family wellness programs visit: www.health.ny.gov.