Too much TV, video and computer can make teens fatter: study

Sep 20, 2010

Too much television, video games and Internet can increase body fat in teens. A five-year study from the University of Montreal and the Sainte-Justine Hospital Research Center, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, has found teenagers have four different patterns of screen use: increasers, decreasers, consistently high and consistently low users.

Even teens from the consistently low group exceeded two hours per day of screen time on average, yet organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Paediatric Society recommend limiting screen use to two hours per day. Increasers and consistently high screen users had the greatest increases in percent body fat, while decreasers had the lowest gains in percent body fat

While the majority of adolescents in the study maintained a typical ''flat'' pattern of 25 to 30 hours of screen time per week, close to 30 percent of had screen time patterns that increased, decreased or remained high over time. The scientists found that these atypical' patterns had the greatest impact on .

"There is some concern that adolescents' television, video and computer use is filling much of their discretionary time" says lead author Tracie A. Barnett, a professor at the Université de Montréal's Department of Social and Preventive Medicine and a scientist at the Sainte-Justine Hospital Research Center. "Our findings show that youth are at greater risk of increased body fat if screen use increases through high school; one possible reason is that teens who increase their screen time are simultaneously reducing involvement in and opportunities for more active pursuits." Similarly, teens that had initially high levels of screen use but dropped their screen use over time ended up with the most favourable body fat profiles.

Dr. Barnett and her team evaluated 744 participants, as of grade 7, from 10 Montreal high schools. Teens reported screen time and their level of physical activity four times per year or a total of 20 times during the five-year study. The research team also measured height, weight and of participants several times over the course of the investigation.

"The high levels of screen time observed in our study underscore the need for public health strategies to reduce overall screen time among youth. Encouraging less screen time, and some form of monitoring to prevent excessive increases in screen time through high school, would be beneficial to . Since most already have firmly established viewing habits at the start of high school, these strategies also need to target kids before they even begin high school," says Dr. Barnett.

Explore further: Oil-swishing craze: Snake oil or all-purpose remedy?

More information: The study, "Teens and Screens: The Influence of Screen Time on Adiposity in Adolescents," published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, was authored by Tracie A. Barnett, Jennifer O'Loughlin, Igor Karp and Andraea Van Hulst of the University of Montreal; Marie Lambert of the Sainte-Justine Hospital Research Center; Catherine M. Sabiston of McGill University and Mathieu Bélanger of the Centre de Formation Médicale du Nouveau-Brunswick.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

When screen time becomes a pain

Jun 08, 2010

The amount of time teenagers spend in front of TV screens and monitors has been associated with physical complaints. A large study of more than 30,000 Nordic teenagers published in the open access journal BMC Public Health ha ...

22-year study finds adults aren't active enough

May 12, 2009

A new study has sounded the alarm that the majority of Canadian adults are inactive over their lifespan and don't exercise enough during their leisure time. Published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition an ...

Recommended for you

Suddenly health insurance is not for sale

6 hours ago

(HealthDay)— Darlene Tucker, an independent insurance broker in Scotts Hill, Tenn., says health insurers in her area aren't selling policies year-round anymore.

Study: Half of jailed NYC youths have brain injury (Update)

6 hours ago

About half of all 16- to 18-year-olds coming into New York City's jails say they had a traumatic brain injury before being incarcerated, most caused by assaults, according to a new study that's the latest in a growing body ...

Autonomy and relationships among 'good life' goals

13 hours ago

Young adults with Down syndrome have a strong desire to be self-sufficient by living independently and having a job, according to a study into the meaning of wellbeing among young people affected by the disorder.

User comments : 3

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

ArtflDgr
5 / 5 (2) Sep 20, 2010
what if they dont have enough calories when they do it, will they still be 'made' fatter?

how about this theory:
Fat people eat too much compared to how much they burn

cure:
Eat less if your not using it

turned down by medical journals as it didnt blame someone outside the control of the victim..
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (1) Sep 20, 2010
what if they dont have enough calories when they do it, will they still be 'made' fatter?

how about this theory:
Fat people eat too much compared to how much they burn

cure:
Eat less if your not using it

turned down by medical journals as it didnt blame someone outside the control of the victim..

I can serve as experimental evidence. When I spend time in my office rather than in the field I get fatter than I'd like almost overnight. When I'm actually doing physical activity I lose weight. Surprise, surprise.
Simonsez
not rated yet Sep 20, 2010
Sedentary activities instead of physical activities can make people overweight: study

More news stories

Treating depression in Parkinson's patients

A group of scientists from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging has found interesting new information in a study on depression and neuropsychological function in Parkinson's ...

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

(Phys.org) —Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists ...

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

(Phys.org) —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...