The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued a policy statement on children, obesity and the media, recommending that pediatricians continue counseling parents “to limit total non-educational screen time to no more than 2 hours/day.” Published in the July 2011 issue of Pediatrics, the policy statement claims that media continues to contribute to childhood and adolescent obesity as “screen time may displace more active pursuits, advertising of junk food and fast food increases children’s requests for those particular foods and products, snacking increases while watching TV or movies, and late-night screen time may interfere with getting adequate amounts of sleep.”

AAP urges doctors to “encourage parents to discuss food advertising with their children,” as well as work with other child health advocates at the local, state and national levels to implement (i) “a ban on junk food advertising”; (ii) “restrictions on interactive food advertising to children via digital media”; (iii) further research “into the health and psychosocial effects of heavy media use in children”; and (iv) “more prosocial media platforms and resources for children that encourage them to choose healthy foods.”

“We’ve created a perfect storm for childhood obesity – media, advertising, and inactivity,” said lead author Victor Strasburger, a member of the AAP Council on Communications and Media. “Thirty years ago, the federal government ruled that young children are psychologically defenseless against advertising. Now, kids see 5,000 to 10,000 food ads per year, most of them for junk food and fast food.” See AAP Press Release, June 27, 2011.