This study evaluated the effectiveness of an open-loop system that reinforces physical activity with TV watching to increase children’s physical activity. Nonoverweight, sedentary boys and girls (8–12 y) were randomized to a group that received feedback of activity counts + reinforcement for physical activity by providing access to television (F+R, n = 20); or to feedback, no reinforcement (Feedback, n = 20) or no feedback, no reinforcement control (Control, n = 21) groups. Children wore an accelerometer with a count display for 4-months with a 1-year follow-up. F+R reduced TV by 68 min/day and TV time was lower than the Feedback (p < .005) and Control (p < .002) groups. TV time of F+R remained 31 min lower (p < .02) than baseline at 1-year. F+R had a 44% increase in physical activity, which was greater than the feedback (p < .04) and control (p < .01) groups. An open-loop system decreases TV viewing and increases physical activity of children for 4-months. TV of the F+R group remained lower at 12 months, suggesting a reduction in screen-time habits.
Roemmich, Lobarinas, Barkley, White, Paluch, and Epstein are with the Dept. of Pediatrics, School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, SUNY Buffalo, Buffalo, NY.