But, children who said that their parents set limits on TV watching were less likely to watch more than their parents allowed, the researchers found.
In addition, children who were physically active either in organized sports or in free-time play were less likely to watch more than a couple of hours of TV a day, Carlson's team found.
Carlson thinks parents are role models in both watching TV and physical activity. "Parents can be the best role model," she said.
"Parents need to limit the amount of their children's screen time and they should be encouraging their kids to participate in physical activity," Carlson said.
Jennifer Manganello, an assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy, Management and Behavior at the School of Public Health at the University at Albany in New York, said: "Given findings from this study and the fact that limiting media use for youth is recommended by experts, parents may want to consider rules they can establish to reduce time spent with screen media as well as other strategies that can decrease media use, such as removing a TV from a childs bedroom."
Dr. Tracie Miller, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said that "parental regulations and influences are always powerful for children."
The question is how this can make a dent in the obesity epidemic among children, she said.
Miller noted that the obese and overweight children she treats usually have one parent who is obese or overweight. In addition, physically unfit children tend to have physically unfit parents, she said.
"Taking time to be physically active with your kids is an important thing for me as a parent and for my children as well," Mi
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