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Study Links Screen Time And Childhood Obesity

A study published in Pediatric Obesity suggests a link between screen time and weight gain in American pre-teens.

Data from studying 11,066 pre-teens showed that each additional hour spent in front of a screen was associated with a higher body weight in nine-to-ten-year-olds the following year.

The study suggests that it isn’t just a lack of exercise, but the “unattainable body ideals” that social media displays, leading to overeating.

“Screen time is often sedentary and may replace time for physical activity. Children are exposed to more food advertisements and are prone to snacking and overeating while distracted in front of screens,” said lead author, Jason Nagata, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco.

The researchers noted that the study was conducted prior to the COVID-19, but its findings “are especially relevant for the pandemic”

“With remote learning, the cancellation of youth sports and social isolation, children have been exposed to unprecedented levels of screen time”, Nagata explains.

“Screen time can have important benefits such as education and socialisation during the pandemic, but parents should try to mitigate risks from excessive screen time including increased sedentary time and decreased physical activity.

“Parents should regularly talk to their children about screen-time usage and develop a family media use plan.”

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