Washington State Nutrition & Physical Activity Plan
Physical Activity Obj. 2:
Priority Recommendation C
Provide opportunities to replace sedentary behaviors, such as watching television,
with physical activity

The percentage of 10th graders in Washington who said they watched TV or used the computer for fun for 3 or more hours on an average school day increased from 45% in 2002 to 53% in 2006.

When children spend too much time watching television they are more likely to be overweight.(1) Food advertising changes what children eat, and almost all the food that is advertised on television and the internet is high in calories and low in nutrients.
(2,3,4) There are national goals to improve health by reducing the use of television and other “screens.”(5)

American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends:

    • Limit children’s television time to no more than one or two hours of quality programming per day.
    • Remove television sets from children’s bedrooms.
    • Discourage television viewing for children younger than two years, and encourage more interactive activities such as talking, playing, singing and reading together.
    • Support efforts to establish comprehensive media education programs in schools.(6)

    Many infants(7) and 31 percent of Washington sixth-grade youth, 61 percent in eighth and tenth grades, and 54 percent in 12th grade(8) exceed the AAP recommendations for television viewing and other screen time.(7) Infants of non-high school graduates are almost four times as likely to watch at least one hour of television a day compared to those of college graduates.(9)

    Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends:

    • Limit children’s screen time at home to less than two hours per day.
    • Implement school-based screen time reduction interventions.
    • Develop guidelines for advertising and marketing to children and youth.(10)

    Representatives of more than 30 agencies and programs that are working to reduce the impact of media and screen-time came together for the Washington State Smart Screen Time Summit in 2007. Participants explored policy and environmental changes to promote smart screen use, reduce screen use and increase physical activity opportunities for children.(11) Priority strategies for Washington are:

      • Provide training and resources for early childhood and health professionals.
      • Encourage publicly funded or licensed facilities to comply with AAP screen guidelines.
      • Establish systems to dispose of televisions and computers to discourage their use in children’s bedrooms.

Examples of Activities

Limit access to television and others screens in child care and homes.
Initiatives like, Living Outside the Box and Washington Active Bodies Active Minds (WAABAM) promote thoughtful use of screens and media by providing resources and trainings for families and early childhood and health professionals. These initiatives have reduced screen use in child care facilities and increased the percentage of providers who talk to parents about screen use at home. Incorporating screen time recommendations for child care facilities into the Washington Administrative Code (WAC), could impact screen time policies in licensed child care facilities.(12)
Increase physical activities in child care and youth programs.

Health departments in King and Snohomish Counties regularly offer workshops that provide practical resources for child care and youth programs. In King County, 76 percent of participants in the Fuel and Play Workshop used materials and information from the workshop toincrease children’s physical activity.

Increase options for physical activity in the community.

No Child Left Inside is a program administered by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission that makes grants available to public agencies, for-profit corporations, private non-profit organizations, public and private schools, private individuals and community-based programs to provide opportunities for children to be outside and physically active.