Too Much TV Can Increase Your Child's Risk Of Diabetes

Is your television the elephant in the room? That huge flatscreen that claims the attention of everyone in the room, sucking the attention away from books, exercise, and school work. Even turned off, it tempts us as the ideal solution to awkward silences, forced conversation, and strenuous activity. The kids want it, it’s easier than coming up with alternatives, and, let’s face it, you kind of want to see it yourself. So why not just give in and put it on? Because there is a laundry list of research proving that too much television is bad for your kids, and now there’s a new addition. Recent studies link television viewing with childhood diabetes.

The Facts
In a study done by British researchers, 4,500 children between the ages of nine and ten were asked about the amount of time they spent playing computer games and watching television. Of that number, 37% reported screen time of 60 minutes or less, while 18% claimed a daily habit of three or more hours.

An examination of the children to determine insulin resistance, blood sugar levels, amount of body fat and levels of physical activities followed. Results revealed that the children who admitted to three or more hours of screen time per day had a high level of insulin resistance, lower levels of the appetite controlling leptin, and a higher BMI, all of which are known risk factors for type 2 diabetes.

Group of children watching TV

However, before you push the off button on the remote control, keep in mind there are qualifying factors. According to Claire Nightingale, PhD, “Screen time could be capturing something about your behaviors-how much sedentary time you have and how much you break those up, (or) what your dietary habits (are), potentially, In other words, the tv watching may not be the problem, but rather the symptom of a larger problem.

Healthy Media Use
While there are no strict guidelines on how much tv viewing is dangerous, there are a few ways of keeping your child’s screen time down:

  • Plan to have media free family time together, like family dinners.
  • Designate media free locations in the home.
  • Find out how much time your child is spending on media and place limits on hours and types of media.
  • Engage in family activities like reading, sports, and talking.
  • Model behavior by turning off tv and smartphone during media free time.
  • Share media rules with grandparents or caregivers to make sure the rules remain consistent.
  • Get together with other parents in your community to advocate for healthier habits.

What are you doing to make sure that your kids’ viewing times are down to a minimum? Let us know what steps you’re taking as a parent to keep your kids healthy.

Family walking on a beach.

Activities For the Whole Fam to Keep Minds Healthy

A healthy family is perhaps the most important thing to you, and many others. Feeding your family a diet that nourishes the body and making time for exercise are two of the largest factors in your family’s health equation. However, you might be neglecting a significant area of health: your brain. Keeping your mind active and healthy improves cognitive function, increases focus and memory and can just be downright fun. We’ve come up with several activities the help stimulate the mind to keep it healthy.

Family on a walk.

Walking
Okay, yes we know we already mentioned exercise is important to your overall health, but walking is also an excellent brain activity. The benefits which can be found from walking include growth of new blood vessels in the brain, reducing inflammation and insulin resistance, and stimulating the release of growth factors – chemicals that are present in the brain and can affect the health of our brain cells. You don’t need to put your family in an exercise boot camp to get these brain benefits; a simple walk around the neighborhood as a family will produce these results.

Family playing a puzzle game.

Puzzles
Gathering your family to work on a puzzle together is a great way to spend quality time together while also keeping your minds healthy. You probably know that your brain is responsible for producing dopamine, but you may not know why that it important. Dopamine is the chemical that is largely responsible for learning and memory. Putting together a jigsaw puzzle with your family releases dopamine. The type of puzzle you use will probably be determined by the ages of your children. Younger children will require less complicated puzzles, so be sure to have some kid-friendly puzzles together as well as challenging puzzles for older children and other adults in your family.

Family playing a board game.

Board Games
In the age of electronics and technology, kids probably get more screen time than time spent with family playing games that really encourage a healthy mind. Board games are a great way to spend time together as a family and to improve your minds. Board games are great especially with children in the elementary school age range because they require learning skills such as taking turns, problem-solving and creative thinking. Some of our favorite family games are Uno, Scrabble and Battleship. Monopoly is a great game that teaches about money and cause and effect, but we recommend not trying this one with a toddler.

While the activities mentioned above are excellent ways to keep your family’s minds active and healthy, many of the things you do every day with your family also help keep the mind active. Listening and talking not only strengthen family bonds, but can help stimulate areas of your brain. You could also work on crosswords as a family, color mandalas together (or each color their own) or listen to classical music during meals. The activities available to keep your family’s minds healthy is limited only by your creativity.