Reduce Video or Computer Game Playing Time

By reducing children's and youth's video or computer game playing time, it has been shown that junk food and SSB consumption decrease, and time spent in physical activity or other activities that expend more energy increase.

Using regression models, Sonneville and Gortmaker (2008) estimate that every 1 hour increase in watching TV was associated with a 105.5 kcal increase in total energy intake. Each hour of playing video and computer games is associated with an increase of 91.8 kcal per hour. The model uses Metabolic Equivalent of Task (MET) values for boys ages 13 to 15 and girls ages 12 to 14 as the basis for calculating calories expended. Differences in males versus females may exist, but the study was underpowered to detect significant differences.

Sonneville and Gortmaker estimate the total energy intake and the energy gap associated with behaviors of adolescents during leisure behaviors, including sports, chores, TV viewing, and reading or doing homework. Based upon a prospective study design, 538 students from Boston-area public schools were studied from fall 1995 to spring 1997. Anthropometric and dietary assessments were collected, along with measures of TV, video, reading/doing homework, and physical activity.

Mean baselines collected include: 48.46 kg, 20.71 BMI, 2139.19 kcal per day consumption, 3.31 hours per day of TV watching, 0.89 hours per day of video and computer game playing, 1.55 hours per day of reading and/or doing homework, and 1.33 hours per day of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity.

Mean follow-up data collected include: 57.50 kg, 22.23 BMI, 2293.98 kcal per day consumption, 3.10 hours per day of TV watching, 0.77 hours per day of video and computer game playing, 1.35 hours per day of reading and/or doing homework, and 1.27 hours per day of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity.

Guran and Bereket (2011) describe the mechanisms by which TV viewing time may affect or displace time spent engaging in physical activity. The additional time spent in media intake and exposure may also have the added affect of shaping food choices and caloric intake throughout the day.

For the calculations, a MET value of 1.34 kcal per kg per hour was used as reported by Harrell et al., which is the estimated resting energy expenditure value for boys aged 13-15 years and girls ages 12-14.

* The Average Caloric Impact (ACI) for this intervention is empirical, based on trial data from Sonneville and Gortmaker (2008). Epstein et al. (2008) and Miller et al. (2008) report similar impacts.

Studies Used in Estimates

Epstein LH, Roemmich JN, Robinson JL, Paluch RA, Winiewicz DD, Fuerch JH, Robinson TN. A Randomized Trial of the Effects of Reducing Television Viewing and Computer Use on Body Mass Index in Young Children. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine 2008; 162:239-245.

Miller SA, Taveras EM, Rifas-Shiman SL, Gillman MW. Association Between Television Viewing and Poor Diet Quality in Young Children. International Journal of Pediatric Obesity : IJPO : An Official Journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity. 2008;3(3):168-176.

Sonneville KR, Gortmaker SL. Total Energy Intake, Adolescent Discretionary Behaviors, and the Energy Gap. International Journal of Obesity 2008; 32:S19-S27.

Other References

Guran T, Bereket A. International Epidemic of Childhood Obesity and Television Viewing. Minerva Pediatrics 2011; 63:483-490.

Harrel J, McMurray R, Baggett C, Pennel M, Pearce P, Bangdiwala S. Energy Costs of Physical Activities in Children and Adolescents. Medicine Science in Sports and Exercise 2005; 37:329-336.

Robinson TN. Television Viewing and Childhood Obesity. Pediatrics Clinic of North America 2001; 48(4):1017-1025.