Less time spent watching television, making use of smartphones and computers reduces children’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes, a study says.
Children who had three or more hours of screen time each day had higher risk factors for type 2 diabetes than those who spent an hour or less in front of screens, said the research team from St George’s University of London.
The findings were based on a heart health study dating from 2004 to 2007 involving 4,495 children aged 9 and 10.
All the children were assessed for metabolic and cardiovascular risk factors. These included blood fats, insulin resistance, fasting blood sugar levels, inflammatory chemicals, blood pressure and body fat.
The children were also asked how long they spent in front of televisions, computers and games consoles.
37% of the children reported an hour or less each day while 28% reported 1–2 hours. 13% said they spent 2–3 hours in front of the screen while 18% reported more than three hours.
4% of the children in the study said they had no screen time.
Boys were found to be more likely than girls to say they spent three or more hours in front of a screen.
The researchers said that there was a strong trend between a daily quota of three or more hours of screen time and levels of leptin, the hormone that controls appetite, as well as fasting glucose and insulin resistance.
The authors also noted that over the 10 years since the original data was included, children’s screen time will have increased with the proliferation of smartphones and tablets.
The findings were published in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood.
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