Screen Time May Be Increasing Childhood Obesity Rates

Post-holidays, many children can be found playing with new toys and devices such as smart phones, tablets, and gaming systems. However, a recent study in The Journal of Pediatrics suggests that excessive screen time may be contributing to an increase in childhood obesity rates.

The study, conducted by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, took data from a sample of high school students ages 15 to 18 years old, according to FoodNavigator-USA.

The students reported the number of hours spent using smart phones, tablets, and computers; playing video games; and watching TV. They also reported the number of hours slept during school nights, the amount of sugar-sweetened beverages consumed, and the frequency of physical activity for a week.

Results showed that 20 percent of the students were on smartphones, tablets, computers, and played video games for more than five hours a day. Eight percent spent more than five hours a day watching TV.

Students who spent more than five hours a day in front of a screen were twice as likely to consume sugar-sweetened beverages and sleep less, and they had a lower frequency of physical activity.

"Although this study cannot determine whether the observed associations between different forms of screen media use and health behaviors are causal, these results are still a cause for concern for clinicians, public health professionals, and families," the authors of the study said.