Children can reduce their body mass index by spending less time at TV and video games, researchers from the University of Buffalo found.
The researchers from the State University of New York also claimed weight loss success with use of a device that automatically limits time spent gazing at screens.
The university released the results Monday from a randomized trial involving 70 boys and girls between the ages of 4 and 7 whose body mass index reached tje 75th percentile or higher for their age group and gender.
The researchers said that parents decreased their children's time watching videos by an average of 17.5 hours a week and lowered their body mass index significantly in two years.
"Our controlled experiment provided a test of whether reducing access to television and computer time led to a reduction in BMI," Leonard Epstein, UB distinguished professor and one of the study's authors, said. "Results showed that watching television and playing computer games can lead to obesity by reducing the amount of time that children are physically active, or by increasing the amount of food they consume as they as engaged in these sedentary behaviors."
Each participant watched television or played video games at least 14 hours a week, before their families received a TV Allowance device. Each family member got a private personal code to activate household electronics.
Some of the families' devices were set for a weekly time limit, which lowered the amount of time children could watch videos or play games by 10% each week until the time had been cut in half.
Researchers described the results as "modest," but said the $100-dollar device could play an important role in combating obesity.