According to a new study, children who spend a lot of time in front of the screens are at a higher risk of gaining weight and abdominal obesity, regardless of how much they exercise. The results of the study were published in the journal ‘Scientific Reports’. The increase in childhood obesity is one of the largest health problems globally.
The study, carried out at the Folkhalsan Research Centre in collaboration with the University of Helsinki, investigated links between screen time and being overweight by utilising the Finnish Health in Teens data (Fin-HIT), encompassing more than 10,000 children from across Finland. The children studied were between 9 and 12 years of age.
The subjects reported the time spent viewing television programmes and films on screens and the amount of sedentary computer use outside school hours. The children were measured for height, weight and waist circumference.
The results of the study demonstrated that heavy screen time is associated with both overweight and abdominal obesity. There was no variance in the findings by age, gender, native language, sleep duration and exercise during free time. Watching a lot of television was also associated with overweight and abdominal obesity in children who exercised the most.