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Published: Fri, March 17, 2017
Health | By Bessie Ortiz

Kids' Screen Time Linked to Diabetes

Kids' Screen Time Linked to Diabetes

The new findings closely link to previous research which found that adults who had a lot of screen time had a higher risk of weight gain and type 2 diabetes.

To explore the increase, experts monitored 4,500 children aged nine and 10 at London primary schools. The researchers found that children who reported more than three hours of screen time per day had 11 percent higher levels of insulin resistance than children who reported less than one hour per day.

Heavy viewing on screens leads to adiposity which is the state when the body develops a resistance to insulin and also the leads to the increase in the body fat percentage.

Boys were found to be more likely than girls to say they spent three or more hours in front of a screen.

Physicians suggest reducing screen time may reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes and encourage at least one hour of activity a day. Children were also questioned about the amount of time they spend on gaming consoles, computers and television sets. And now there are other gadgets available as well - smartphones, tabs and laptops.

But the authors cautioned that the research does not show that increased screen time itself results in raised levels of risk factors for the disease.

However the study did not follow up on the children to see whether they actually went on to develop diabetes.

"The rising number of type 2 diabetes in children is an alarming statistic and addressing the nation's childhood obesity issues should be the responsibility of us all", he said.

The prevalence of digital devices, like smartphones and tablets, is affecting teenagers, too, though not in ways you might suspect. Between 2004 and 2007, researchers assessed the children for metabolic and cardiovascular risk factors, including blood fats, insulin resistance, fasting blood glucose levels, blood pressure, and body fat. And 18 percent of the kids admitted to be spending more than three hours in front of screens each day.

"Screen time could be capturing something about your behaviours - how much sedentary time you have and how much you break that up [or] what your dietary habits [are], potentially", said Claire Nightingale, a medical statistician at St George's, University of London and co-author of the research.

It also showed that 28 percent of the participants, spent 1 to 2 hours daily on electronic devices, while 13 percent used these devices for at least 2 to 3 hours.

Almost 22 percent of the boys revealed that they spent 3 hours or more hooked on their devices, while 14 percent of the girls admitted doing the same. The associations between screen time and insulin levels, insulin resistance, ponderal index, skinfolds thickness and fat mass remained significant even after considering the important factors like household income, puberty stage and physical activity levels.

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