Once upon a time, "play time" for kids meant going outside. But now, with computers, video games and cable tv, that's not necessarily the case anymore. “I would do it like a whole day, like once or twice a week,” said nine year old Grace Hutchens about her computer game habits. Grace and her seven year-old sister Maggie love their computer time. So much so that their parents had to intervene. The girls eventually started playing outdoors, But it took some effort by mom and dad. “You have to lure them outside,” said their mom Sandy. “They want to stay inside, they want to play on the computer or watch tv or listen to their i-pod.” Statistics show that they aren't alone. Data released this week by the American Medical Association says the amount of physical activity drops by more than two hours a day between ages nine and fifteen. “As they reach puberty, they start to become less active and because the culture isn't really reinforcing activity, it makes it even worse,” said Heidi Kaufman, a nutritionist in Wilmington. Kaufman says physical activity needs to be set in a child's routine at an early age. Most importantly, she says parents need to be pro-active, even if it means prying your kids off the couch. “You have to push them,” Sandy Hutchens said. “You can't be afraid to push them. You have to insist on them going outside and just play.” Statistics from the Center for Disease Control indicate that childhood obesity rates have also increased over the past few decades. They've gone up more than ten percent for children between ages two and nineteen.
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