Stanford Pediatric Weight Control Program
Stanford Prevention Research

Children spend more time watching television and videotapes and playing video games than any other activity except sleeping.

A vast scientific literature proves that television viewing has substantial negative effects on children's health and behaviors. Exposure to violent media causes them to be more aggressive; TV, videotape, and video game use cause weight gain and obesity; TV advertising affects children's preferences and the products they ask for; young teens who watch more TV start to drink alcohol earlier; and heavy television viewers do worse in school. Several key research studies conducted at the Stanford Prevention Research Center have identified effective methods to decrease children's TV watching, and have demonstrated the real benefits of cutting back on TV.


Effects of Reducing Television, Videotape, and Video Game Use on Children's Health and Behavior, Thomas Robinson, M.D., MPH - Principal Investigator

Reducing Television Viewing to Prevent Childhood Obesity
Thomas Robinson, M.D., MPH - Principal Investigator, Joel Killen, Ph.D., William Haskell, Ph.D., Donna Matheson , Ph.D., Leslie Pruitt, Ph.D., Helena Kraemer, Ph.D.

Innovative Obesity Prevention for African-American Girls (GEMS Phases 1 and 2)
Researchers: Thomas Robinson, M.D., MPH - Principal Investigator

Reducing Children's Television Viewing to Prevent Obesity Pilot
Thomas Robinson, M.D., MPH - Principal Investigator;
Description: Two phase pilot study to develop a social cognitive theory-based school and family intervention to reduce children's television, videotape and video game use, and evaluate its effects on media use, physical activity, physical fitness, dietary fat, and body composition in a randomized controlled trial (N~200 third and fourth grade children in two schools).


The curriculum developed for these research projects, and proven to reduce children's television viewing, weight gain, aggression and requests for toys, is available to teachers, schools, public health and medical professionals, child and family advocates, researchers, and parents through the Health Promotion Resource Center.

Student Media Awareness to Reduce Television (S.M.A.R.T) 3rd-4th Grade Curriculum, Teachers Manual and CD-Rom; 2004

Discounts available for purchases of over 10.
Call (650) 723-0003.


Sample Lesson (PDF):


Robinson, T, et. al. Reducing children's television viewing to prevent obesity: A randomized controlled trial. ; Journal of the American Medical Association 1999; 282: 1561-1567. PubMed Citation.

Robinson, T, et. al. Effects of reducing children's television and video game use on aggressive behavior. Arch. Pediatr. Adolesc. Med/ Vol 155, Jan 2001.

Robinson, T, et. al. Effects of reducing television viewing on children's requests for toys: a randomized controlled trial. Ethnicity and Disease. 2003; 13(1 Suppl 1): S65-77

Robinson, T, et. al. Does television viewing increase obesity and reduce physical activity? Cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses among adolescent girls. Pediatrics. 1993; 91(2): 273-80

Robinson, T, et. al. Dance and reducing television viewing to prevent weight gain in African-American girls: The Stanford GEMS pilot study. Ethnicity and Disease, 2003;13:S1-65-S1-77.

Robinson TN, Killen JD. Ethnic and gender differences in the relationships between television viewing and obesity, physical activity and dietary fat intake.  Journal of Health Education, 1995;26:S91-S98.

Robinson TN, Chen HL, Killen JD. Television and music video exposure and risk of adolescent alcohol use.  Pediatrics, 1998;102:e54 (

Borzekowski DLG, Robinson TN. Viewing the viewers: 10 video case studies of children's television viewing behaviors.  Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, 1999;43:506-528.

Borzekowski DLG, Robinson TN, Killen JD. Does the camera add ten pounds? examining media use and weight concerns among teenage girls.  Journal of Adolescent Health, 2000;26:36-41.

Borzekowski DLG, Robinson TN. The 30-second effect: An experiment revealing the impact of television commercials on food preferences of preschoolers.  Journal of the American Dietetics Association, 2001;101:42-46.

Robinson TN. Television viewing and childhood obesity.  Pediatric Clinics of North American, 2001;48:1017-1025.

Ford BS, McDonald TE, Owens AS, Robinson TN. Primary care interventions to reduce television viewing in African-American children. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2002;22(2):106-109.

Matheson DM, Killen JD, Wang Y, Varady A, Robinson TN. Children's food consumption while watching television. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2004:In Press.