Visit Our Coronavirus (COVID-19)  Resource Section ⇒ X
Jump to:  A   |   B   |   C   |   D   |   E   |   F   |   G   |   H   |   I   |   J   |   K   |   L   |   M   |   N   |   O   |   P   |   Q   |   R   |   S   |   T   |   U   |   V   |   W   |   X   |   Y

Your Teen's Smartphone Could Be Key to Unhealthy Weight

Your Teen's Smartphone Could Be Key to Unhealthy Weight

TUESDAY, June 8, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Your teens' route to a healthy or unhealthy weight may be in their hands -- literally.

New research out of South Korea shows that teens who spend too much time on their smartphones are also more prone to eating habits that increase their odds for obesity.

One nutritionist who helps treat obesity in the young wasn't surprised by the findings.

"Spending hours on end on your phone — or any blue-light screen — can disrupt our sleeping patterns, and less snooze can affect our appetite-stimulating hormones, causing hyperphagia [overeating]," explained registered dietitian Sharon Zarabi, who wasn't involved in the new research.

"Ever wonder why you're craving carbs when you haven't had a full night's rest?" said Zarabi, who directs the Katz Institute for Women's Health at Northwell Health in New York City.

In the new study, researchers tracked the health of more than 53,000 South Korean adolescents, aged 12 to 18. The team found that those who spent more than two hours a day on their smartphone were much more likely to eat larger amounts of junk food, while consuming fewer fruits and vegetables, compared to those who spent less time on their phones.

Specifically, teens who spent five or more hours a day on their phones were more likely to consume sugar-sweetened beverages, fast food, chips and instant noodles than those who spent less than two hours a day on their phones, said a team led by Hannah Oh, assistant professor at Korea University.

All of this added up to added pounds: Teens who spent more than three hours a day on a smartphone were also significantly more likely to be overweight or obese, the findings showed.

The reasons teens used their phones appeared to matter, too. Those who did more information searches and retrieval on their phones had healthier eating behaviors versus those who used their phones more for chatting/messenger, gaming, video/music and social networking.

As for obesity, teens who primarily used their smartphones for gaming or looking at videos or listening to music were more likely to be heavy, according to the study presented June 7 at a virtual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition.

In a meeting news release, Oh explained, "While earlier studies have shown that TV watching is an important factor that increases the risk of obesity in children and adolescents, little is known about the effects of modern screen time such as smartphone use. Our data suggest that both smartphone usage time and content type may independently influence diet and obesity in adolescents."

The researchers pointed out that many reasons — more "mindless" eating, inadequate sleep, or spending time on the phone that would otherwise be spent on physical activity — could help account for the link to unhealthy weight gain.

The study couldn't prove a cause-and-effect relationship. But Zarabi said less time spent on phones and more time being active could turn weight gain into healthy weight maintenance.

"Children should be encouraged to be more active and utilize the energy they consume, even during periods of growth," she said. "Instead, we store all the excess carbohydrates and calories from processed foods that are easily accessible and mindless, while scrolling through our addictive phones."

Because this study was presented at a medical meeting, its findings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more on teens and weight.

SOURCES: Sharon Zarabi, RD, program director, Katz Institute for Women's Health, Northwell Health, New York City and Westchester; American Society for Nutrition, news release, June 7, 2021

Reviewed Date: --

Find a pediatrician
Childrens Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
Dr. James Bennett
Dr. J. Marc Cardelia
Dr. Bettina Gyr
Dr. Peter Moskal
Dr. Cara Novick
Dr. Stephanie Pearce
Dr. Carl St. Remy
Sports Medicine
Dr. Joel Brenner
Dr. Aisha Joyce
Dr. Micah Lamb
Dr. David Smith
Health Tips
Helping Kids Get Over their Fears
Is It Time for Toilet Training?
It’s Snow Fun: Skiing and Snowboarding
Making Family Fitness Fun
Reading to Kids Helps Their Development
Sports and Music: Both Good for Kids
Strength Training at Home
Weight Room No Longer Off-Limits to Kids
When Can a Child Wear Contact Lenses
Quizzes
Child Development Quiz
Older, Wiser, Wider?
Swimming Quiz
Teen Health Quiz
NewsLetters
3 Retro Fitness Trends Worth Trying
6 Ways to Get Creative with Your Cardio
Find (and Keep) Your Exercise Motivation
Get a Great Workout at Home
Get Moving While Dinner’s Cooking
Pressed for Time? HIIT It
The Great Pumpkin Workout
Diseases & Conditions
Adolescent (13 to 18 Years)
Amenorrhea in Teens
Anatomy of a Child's Brain
Anatomy of the Endocrine System in Children
Anxiety Disorders in Children
Asthma in Children Index
Becker Muscular Dystrophy (BMD) in Children
Bone Marrow Transplant for Children
Brain Tumors in Children
Breast Conditions in Young Women
Chemotherapy for Children: Side Effects
Discipline
Ewing Sarcoma in Children
Exercise and Children
Exercise and Teenagers
Female Growth and Development
Firearms
Gynecological and Menstrual Conditions
Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) in Children
High Blood Pressure in Children and Teens
Home Page - Adolescent Medicine
Inflammatory and Infectious Musculoskeletal Disorders
Inflammatory and Infectious Neurological Disorders
Inguinal Hernia in Children
Insect Bites and Children
Kidney Transplantation in Children
Major Depression in Teens
Meningitis in Children
Menstrual Cramps (Dysmenorrhea) in Teens
Menstrual Disorders
Mood Disorders in Children and Adolescents
Myasthenia Gravis (MG) in Children
Normal Newborn Behaviors and Activities
Oral Health
Osteosarcoma (Osteogenic Sarcoma) in Children
Overview of Adolescent Health Problems
Pap Test for Adolescents
Pediatric Blood Disorders
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in Children
Preparing the School-Aged Child for Surgery
Schizophrenia in Children
School-Aged Child Nutrition
Sports Safety for Children
Superficial Injuries of the Face and Head- Overview
Teens and Diabetes Mellitus
Television and Children
Thalassemia
The Growing Child- Teenager (13 to 18 Years)
The Growing Child: 1 to 3 Months
The Growing Child: 10 to 12 Months
The Growing Child: 2-Year-Olds
The Growing Child: 4 to 6 Months
The Growing Child: 7 to 9 Months
The Growing Child: Newborn
The Growing Child: Preschool (4 to 5 Years)
The Growing Child: School-Age (6 to 12 Years)
The Heart
The Kidneys
Your Child's Asthma
Your Child's Asthma: Flare-ups

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.