Too much time sitting in front of the television or watching a phone or tablet is linked to poor school performance, childhood obesity and attention problems.
Starting in 2015, the Louisiana Department of Health (DHH) has partnered with the Louisiana Department of Education (DOE), LSU's Pennington Biomedical Research Center and the Tulane School of Public Health to participate in a project to test strategies on going screen-free. LDH and these partners are working with six child care centers in the state on the project, which is funded by the Association of State Public Health Nutritionists. Centers are provided with education materials, lesson plans and activity suggestions.
Reducing screen time is a proven strategy to fight childhood obesity. Since 2010 the LDH Bureau of Family Health and Health Promotions team, along with the Southeast Louisiana Area Health Education Center, have been administering a national evidence-based intervention to prevent and reduce childhood obesity in Louisiana child care centers. The Nutrition and Physical Activity Self-Assessment for Child Care (NAP SACC) program is designed to promote healthy weight development in preschool children by improving:
- the nutritional quality of food served,
- the amount and quality of physical activity,
- staff-child interactions,
- facility policies and practices on nutrition and physical activity and
- related environmental characteristics.
The NAP SACC guidelines follow the those of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move initiative which, in addition to recommending no more than two hours of recreational screen times each day, also suggests that children get five servings of fruits or vegetables, one hour or more of physical activity, zero sweetened drinks and 10 hours of sleep per day.
DOE recently changed childcare licensing regulations to restrict screen time in early learning centers. LSU's Pennington Biomedical Research Center is also launching a new study of child care centers in East Baton Rouge Parish to examine children's physical activity and screen time during school and outside of school hours.
This news comes after Screen-Free Week, which was celebrated May 2-8 this year. For more information, visit http://www.screenfree.org/.
The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state residents.To learn more about LDH, visit www.dhh.la.gov. For up-to-date health information, news and emergency updates, follow DHH's Twitter account and Facebook.