and beverage marketing and their risk of early childhood obesity (Moore, 2006; Pempek and Calvert, 2009; Swinburn and Shelly, 2008).

Accordingly, this chapter is focused on two goals. The first is to limit the exposure of young children to media and food marketing, as well as to improve voluntary standards for marketing foods and beverages to young children. The second is to provide consistent information and strategies to parents and other caregivers on how to prevent childhood obesity and promote healthy child development through a long-term, robust program of social marketing. In 2001, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued a statement regarding media use and children, as well as a guideline recommending no television viewing for children under 2 years of age (AAP, 2001). This age recommendation is consistent with neurodevelopmental research showing that significant brain development is completed in response to environmental stimuli over the first 18–24 months of life (Christakis, 2009). Yet despite these recommendations, there has been an explosion of television programming geared specifically toward infants and preschoolers, generating sales of nearly $100 million in 2004 (Anderson and Pempek, 2005; Khermouch, 2004; Mendelsohn et al., 2008; Wartella et al., 2005). In fact, a recent Kaiser Family Foundation report showed that 61 percent of children younger than 2 years of age are exposed to television and spend approximately 1 hour 20 minutes daily in this activity (Rideout and Hamel, 2006). Further, a reported 30 percent of children aged 0–3 and 43 percent of those aged 4–6 have a television in their bedroom (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2005).

Research is limited on the impact of media exposure on very young children. Several factors account for the dearth of research, including methodological challenges specific to this age group, a lack of federal funding priority, and difficulty in defining and assessing attention to content (Anderson and Pempek, 2005; Christakis et al., 2004; Kaiser Family Foundation, 2005). Evidence is limited in particular for children aged 0–2 and for “new” media, such as social networking media and the Internet.


Recommendation 5-1: Adults working with children should limit screen time, including television, cell phones, or digital media, to less than 2 hours per day for children aged 2-5.

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