Previous research already showed that increased time spent watching TV or with the computer increases risk of obesity and insulin resistance in adults.
Children especially males have shown far more increased time watching television or playing video games, or with smart phones and electronic tablets in recent times, a study from by researchers from St. George’s, University of London says.
How the study was conducted
The recent study involved 4495 children aged between 9-10.
Their activity levels, body proportions and time spent watching TV was recorded daily. Pubertal status was also taken note of in girls.
Findings from the study
It was reported that children who spent 3 hours or more had higher levels of leptin and insulin than those that had less than one hour screen time. This can cause insulin resistance causing a risk for diabetes. Impaired leptin levels noticed can also result in difficulty controlling appetite.
Of the children who took part in the study between 2004 and 2007 and for whom complete data were held, 18 per cent – around one in five – said they spent more than three hours on screens every day. It was reported that boys 22 percent of boys spent 3 or more hours watching TV or using electronic devices compared to 14 percent of girls.
Screen related activities are mostly sedentary in nature and pose a risk to metabolic health.
Study author Dr Claire Nightingale from St George’s, University of London, said:
“Our findings suggest that reducing screen time may be beneficial in reducing type 2 diabetes risk factors, in both boys and girls, from an early age.”
He also said:
“This is particularly relevant, given rising levels of type 2 diabetes, the early emergence of type 2 diabetes risk, and recent trends suggesting screen-related activities are increasing in childhood.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics has previously suggested that children should limit daily screen time to less than 2 hours per day, more recent guidance fro, AAP did not propose a time limit but suggested that parents should place consistent limit on the hours per day of media use.
There is currently an alarming rate of type 2 diabetes starting earlier than would have been expected and if this trend continues, it might pattern screen related behaviour in later life.
The findings were published in the journal the Archives of Disease in Childhood