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Pediatrics. 2012 Dec;130(6):1110-5. doi: 10.1542/peds.2011-3088. Epub 2012 Nov 5.

Office-based randomized controlled trial to reduce screen time in preschool children.

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Division of Paediatric Medicine, Department of Paediatrics, The Hospital for Sick Children, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.



To determine if an intervention for preschool-aged children in primary care is effective in reducing screen time, meals in front of the television, and BMI.


A randomized controlled trial was conducted at a primary care pediatric group practice in Toronto, Canada. Three-year-old children and their parents were randomly assigned to receive a short behavioral counseling intervention on strategies to decrease screen time. The primary outcome 1 year later was parent reported screen time. Secondary outcomes included television in the child's bedroom, number of meals in front of the television, and BMI.


In the intention-to-treat analysis at 1 year, there were no significant differences in mean total weekday minutes of screen time (60, interquartile range [IQR]: 35-120 vs 65, IQR: 35-120; P = .68) or mean total weekend day minutes of screen time (80, IQR: 45-130 vs 90, IQR: 60-120; P = .33) between the intervention and control group. Adjusting for baseline BMI, there was a reduction in the number of weekday meals in front of the television (1.6 ± 1.0 vs 1.9 ± 1.2; P = .03) but no differences in BMI or number of televisions in the bedroom.


This pragmatic trial was not effective in reducing screen time or BMI but was effective in reducing meals in front of the screen. Short interventions focused solely on reducing screen time implemented in the primary care practice setting may not be effective in this age group.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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