Almost every child of this generation is guilty for spending too much time in front of screens such as TV, mobiles, tablets, etc. We are glued to the screens so often that it has ceased to be just another technology but one of the most significant elements in our lives. While we are all aware of its repercussions on our eyes and brain, our dependence is such that we cannot live without them. And our children are only taking after us. Endless apps, TV series, films, social media activities are getting children hooked, making it difficult to keep them away from the screens. Were you of the impression that this habit is only affecting their eyesight? Here is a shocker. Not only is the heavy exposure to the smartphones and TV affecting their eyes and brains, a recent study suggests that children are at risk of developing diabetes if they spend more than three hours in front of a screen.
Often touted as an age-related ailment, diabetes is not only victimising the young but the cause of it also lies so deeply embedded in their daily lifestyle. Number of cases have been reported across the world, and these numbers are on the rise.
Diabetes is a disease where the body’s ability to produce insulin is hindered, which causes abnormal level of glucose in the blood. Till now, unhealthy eating habits, lack of physical activity and family history were counted amongst the top causes of Type-2 diabetes amongst children. But a recent study suggests another aspect of sedentary lifestyle, which is contributing to an increased risk of children developing the disease.
The study published in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood said that children spending more than three hours staring at smartphone, TV screens or their computer systems are at a risk of having type-2 diabetes. Extended periods of screen time can cause increased levels of body fat and insulin resistance in children.
The UK-based research studied data collected from over 4,500 children, and identified that the children who spent more than two hours in front of their screens had biological markers known to increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.
On asking about their daily screen time, including TV, computers and game consoles, only 4 percent of the kids said they never spent any time staring at their smartphones, tablets or TV screens. 37 percent said they spent an hour or less on it. 28 per cent said that they spend over 1-2 hours, 13 percent said their daily exposure was around 2-3 hours. And 18 percent of the kids admitted to be spending more than three hours in front of screens each day. Boys were found to be spending more time staring at the screens than the girls, about 22 percent spent more than three hours per day on screen time as compared to only 14 percent of girls spending the same time staring on to the screen.
Even when potentially influential factors such as family background, household income, physical activity levels and puberty stage were taken into account, the link between diabetes risk factors and screen time still persisted.
The researchers said, “This is particularly relevant, given rising levels of type 2 diabetes, the early emergence of type 2 diabetes risk, and recent trends suggesting that screen time related activities are increasing in childhood and may pattern screen-related behaviours in later life.”
Previous studies have elaborated upon how adults spending long periods of time in-front of their screens are at an increased risk of gaining weight and developing type 2 diabetes, whether such a possible association exists in children too, still needs more research.