Extensive Use of Smartphones & Tablets Indicates Weight Gain in Teens
Smartphones, tablets and computers have become a ubiquitous part of American culture. Unfortunately, they may be having a negative impact on the health of young people, who appear to be exchanging bad TV habits for time on these devices.
According to new research out of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, screen devices are promoting obesity in teenagers. Relying on data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the study included close to 25,000 teens in grades 9 through 12. After parsing the data, researchers found that participants were twice as likely to consume sugary beverages and engage in sedentary lifestyles when they used smartphones, tablets or computers for five or more hours every day. In turn, these teens were 43-percent more likely to become obese, when compared to teenagers who did not use tablets or smartphones.
An Evolving Issue?
For years, health experts have warned against the negative health effects associated with excess TV viewing. Past research has shown that teenagers who watched five or more hours of television are almost three times as likely to consume sugary beverages and just under 80 percent more likely to suffer from obesity. Now, it seems many of these young people may be transferring these bad habits to their smartphones, tablets or computers.
In addition to promoting overeating and sedentary lifestyles, screen devices may also promote obesity indirectly by compromising sleep. According to the Harvard study, when teens spent excessive time on smartphones, tablets or computers, they were at a 74-percent increased risk of poor sleep. Past research has linked inadequate sleep to obesity, along with learning difficulties and a number of other troubling health problems.
What You Can Do
It may come as no surprise to learn that television and screen devices promote inactivity; however, many families underestimate the unhealthy toll they can take on developing minds and bodies. If your children spend too much time on their smartphones, tablets or computers, take steps to reduce this activity and encourage them to become more physically active.