Researchers from the University at Buffalo, part of the State University of New York system, have found that limiting children’s screen time can help them lose weight, HealthDay reports. Published in the March issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, the study included 70 overweight children ages 4 to 7 who watched television or played computer games for at least 14 hours a week. Researchers installed a monitoring device on intervention group participants’ televisions that reduced children’s weekly screen time by 50 percent. In addition, the intervention group received incentives such as money and stickers to encourage participation in other activities. Children in the control group, meanwhile, did not receive specific screen time limits, though their parents learned tips for reducing their television viewing and computer use. After two years, the researchers found that intervention group participants cut their screen time by nearly 17.5 hours weekly, compared to a weekly reduction of just 5.2 hours among control group participants. Although the researchers found no difference in physical activity levels between the two groups, children in the intervention group lost more weight than those in the control group: 30 percent of the intervention group achieved a normal body mass index by the end of the study, compared to just 18 percent of the control group. Noting the results, researchers speculate that cutting screen time reduces mindless eating and eating prompted by television ads. Commenting on the study, David Katz, director of the Yale University School of Medicine Prevention Research Center, notes that the findings underscore the importance of the strategy in the battle against childhood obesity (Reinberg, HealthDay/Yahoo! News, 3/3/08; Steenhuysen, Reuters/Yahoo! News, 3/3/08; Epstein et al., Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, March 2008 [subscription required]).