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Digital Disruption of Metabolism: How Screens Affect Your Physical Health

Written by Girish Khera on

 

FACT: Childhood obesity has tripled in the last 3 decades.

Besides obvious reasons like growing fast food chains, and lack of physical activity, what could be the major environmental reason?

Observation of Trend: Obesity rates began accelerating in with the introduction of home gaming systems in the early 1970’s, followed by new screen developments ever since. Today, children and adolescents spend an average of nearly 8 hours a day using computers, cell phones, tablets, playing video game consoles, or watching television.

Metabolic syndrome is a toxic cocktail of diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure. Prolonged exposure to digital screens and the amount of time spent in front of them cause stress, inflammation, and changes in blood sugar regulation, contributing to risk for metabolic syndrome.

Digital Disruption of Metabolism: How Screens Affect Your Physical Health
Some health risks due to sedentary lifestyle
 

Let’s take a look at some potential explanations as to how the screen time causes obesity, metabolic syndrome and other health issues, especially in kids:

  1. Long hours of sitting in front of screen imply decreased physical activity in children, and therefore, increased body fat.
  2. Increased screen time is often associated with poorer eating habits in people, especially children. This is because the distraction causes the brain not to register when they are full, making them eat more than needed.
  3. A study that investigated insulin sensitivity in children found that the more time kids (especially young girls) spend in front of a screen, the lower their insulin sensitivity.

As per a 2008 research report published in the Journal of Public Health, adolescents exposed to screens for 3 or more than 3 hours a day were approximately two- to threefold more likely to have metabolic syndrome than were adolescents with daily screen time levels of 1 hour or less.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends keeping your child’s room free of a television, computer, or other electronic devices and eating family meals away from a television to lessen the likelihood of overconsumption of sugary drinks, snacks, and other unhealthy foods.


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