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Families encouraged to turn off their televisions April 21-27

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River Falls Area Hospital encourages local families to take part in National Turn Off The TV Week Monday through Sunday, April 21-27.

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National Turn Off The TV Week is an annual event that encourages families to turn their televisions off and enjoy more physical activities instead.

"Children ages 8 to 18 spend more time -- an average of 44.5 hours per week -- in front of televisions, computers and video games than on any other activity in their lives except sleeping," says Heather Logelin, foundation director at the hospital. "Obviously, this 'screen time' is time children are not out getting the kind of exercise they need to get and stay healthy."

The Centers for Disease Control recommend that children get 60 minutes of moderately intense physical activity each day. Lack of physical activity is thought to be a primary cause for the dramatic increase in overweight and obesity among children over the past two decades.

Childhood obesity has increased by 50% over the past five years alone, and being significantly overweight can increase the risk of many chronic illnesses, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some types of cancer.

"Childhood obesity has reached epidemic levels in the United States largely due to poor diet and inadequate physical activity," says Heather Tvedt-Davis, MD, a pediatrician at the River Falls Medical Clinic. "Limiting screen time is an important first step to encouraging children to be more physically active and lead healthier lives. Children who are physically active are less likely to be overweight, are sick less often, do better in school, sleep better, and are less likely to feel sad, depressed or stressed."

During National Turn Off The TV Week, families are challenged to turn off their televisions and explore other activities. The hope is that they will enjoy the active time together, and that the reduction in screen time will continue beyond the seven days of the challenge. More resources for reducing screen time can be found at http://www.allina.com/ahs/aboutall.nsf/page/balancing_screen_time.

For more information, call Heather Logelin at 426-4503 or send her an e-mail at: heather.logelin@allina.com

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