Date of Award

Spring 5-12-2017

Degree Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Department

Public Health

First Advisor

Dr. Rodney Lyn

Second Advisor

Erica Sheldon

Abstract

INTRODUCTION: The prevalence of childhood obesity currently lies at 17% in the United States alone and continues to increase each year. Obesity generally is a result of an imbalance between energy intake and energy expenditure. The increase of childhood obesity prevalence may have adverse morbidity and mortality implications in adulthood, including increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers, insulin resistance, and more. Multiple factors contribute to childhood obesity, including parental behaviors, socioeconomic factors, and media influence. Studies have shown that sedentary behaviors, such as watching television and playing video games, are a major contributor to obesity in children and adolescents. National guidelines recommend that children engage in a minimum of an hour of moderate physical activity every day, yet studies show they are not meeting these requirements.

AIM: The aim of this Capstone project is to examine the relationship between screen time and low levels of physical activity with obesity and sedentary behaviors in children and adolescents. The aim is also to examine ways to leverage screen time as a strategy to increase physical activity levels, particularly through the use of active video games.

METHODS: A review of relevant literature

RESULTS: The findings of this Capstone project support the idea that high levels of sedentary activity and screen time are associated with weight gain and obesity in children and adolescents. Evidence was present that active video games can serve as a promising strategy to increasing physical activity levels among children and adolescents. Reducing sedentary behaviors must happen at the home, institution, and community level.

DISCUSSION: The battle of childhood obesity has shown progress in recent years. Studies show that states are now showing progress in decreasing childhood obesity rates, particularly among low-income preschoolers aged 2 to 4 years. Evidence from the literature review shows that sedentary behaviors in adolescents are associated with negative health outcomes. The literature revealed that excessive television is linked to weight gain. Evidence suggests that targeting parents’ behavior is essential to reducing sedentary behaviors among adolescents. The literature review revealed that the use of active video games serves as a promising approach to reducing sedentary behaviors and increasing physical activity levels in children and adolescents.

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