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Public Media Council on Children's Health to Convene in Early 2008


By Nurturing the Whole Child, the PBS KIDS Initiative Will Take a Unique Media Approach to Address the Complexities Surrounding Childhood Obesity

Arlington, VA (December 3, 2007) - In response to the increased number of children facing risks from childhood obesity, PBS KIDS is kicking off an innovative multi-platform children's health initiative to encourage kids and families to make healthy choices and help reverse the rising rates of childhood obesity. For nearly 40 years, PBS KIDS has supported all the building blocks of children's physical, cognitive and emotional development to help them succeed in school and in life. Given the current children's health implications, PBS KIDS will strengthen existing health-related resources and build a cohesive framework for public media to help children who are at risk.

PBS KIDS will convene a Public Media Council on Children's Health, including public television and Web producers; PBS member stations; community and education partners; experts in children's media, development, health and nutrition; and others, in early 2008. The Council will share expertise, review recent research and current recommendations, and evaluate best practices in order to fully understand the complexities of the issue and help create a blueprint for multi-platform content, educational services, outreach and events for public media. Two key goals of the PBS KIDS children's health initiative include the development of health-related guiding principles for all activities and a strong long-term alliance of partners.

The annual National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that about one-third of U.S. children (approximately 25 million) are overweight or at risk of becoming overweight. The numbers are increasing among children ages 2 to 5 and ages 6 to 11. According to the Surgeon General's Call to Action to Prevent and Decrease Overweight and Obesity (2001), children who have an unhealthy diet and low levels of physical activity are at a greater risk of developing chronic health problems, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma and heart disease. Experts cite additional consequences, such as learning and behavior problems, low self esteem and depression. The Center on Hunger, Poverty, and Nutrition Policy found that healthy, active and well-nourished children and youths are more likely to attend school daily and are more prepared and motivated to learn.

"The right media can be one ingredient for prevention and change. PBS KIDS surrounds a child with positive role models, storylines and activities that foster imagination, build critical skills and self-esteem, and provides a safe haven for exploration and learning," said Lesli Rotenberg, Senior Vice President, PBS KIDS. "Recognizing that families and teachers also need support in their vital roles, we provide resources to help caregivers become partners in a child's development and reinforce key lessons."

PBS' standard for success is measured by how much our content and services contribute to the welfare of America's children. Reaching all U.S. homes through various distribution channels, PBS KIDS reaches a population of children with varying backgrounds, cultures and income levels. As the most trusted media source among parents and a top resource for teachers, PBS KIDS, alongside our stations and partners, can make a meaningful difference in this issue.

This initiative will build upon PBS KIDS' content and resources that support a child's overall well-being and healthy development, including:

  • Rich curriculum-based content distributed free to all America's children, including children's specials that focus on health;
  • Characters who model positive behaviors and attitudes around nutrition, health and exercise, including Elmo, Arthur, Curious George and others;
  • Health and nutrition resources for parents through PBS Parents (pbsparents.org) and for teachers via PBS Teachers (pbs.org/teachers);
  • Community-based activities with the nationwide support of PBS's 355 member stations;
  • PBS KIDS' brand license agreements with companies who share our commitment to children's health and well-being, such as the recent partnership with Produce for Kids' to promote eating more fruits and vegetables;
  • An advisory board of experts in various fields related to children; and
  • Sponsorship guidelines that prohibit food images or claims.

"PBS KIDS treats children as citizens rather than consumers. PBS KIDS does not accept advertisements. On-air underwriting messages do not depict or describe products that appeal to children, including food or snacks," added Ms. Rotenberg. "We plan to incorporate relevant recommendations from the FCC Task Force on Media and Childhood Obesity into our initiative. And we commend the efforts of the industry for collaborating to have a positive impact on children."

PBS KIDS, for preschoolers, and PBS KIDS GO!, for early elementary school kids, are committed to providing the highest quality non-commercial content and learning environment for children across the country. Providing age-appropriate, diverse programming for kids, PBS KIDS and PBS KIDS GO! programs consistently earn more prestigious awards than any other broadcast or cable network. Only PBS KIDS and PBS KIDS GO! have earned the unanimous endorsement of parents, children, industry leaders and teachers. With additional PBS resources to complement its programming, including PBS KIDS online (www.pbskids.org), PBS KIDS GO! online (www.pbskidsgo.org), PBS Parents (www.pbsparents.org), PBS Teachers (www.pbsteachers.org), PBS Ready To Learn services and literacy events across the country, PBS is providing the tools necessary for positive child development. PBS is a nonprofit media enterprise owned and operated by the nation's 355 public television stations, serving nearly 73 million people each week and reaching 99% of American homes.