Health

Watching TV can increase diabetes risk in children

Watching TV can increase diabetes risk in children

Be aware parents! Being stuck to television or screens for more than three hours a day may put your child at increased risk of developing diabetes, a study finds.

Researchers found that both adiposity, which describes total body fat, and insulin resistance, which occurs when cells fail to respond to insulin, were affected by longer hours of watching television and using computers.

“Our findings suggest that reducing screen time may be beneficial in reducing type 2 diabetes risk factors, in both boys and girls, from an early age,” said Claire Nightingale, a research fellow at St George’s, the University of London in the UK. Researchers had studied on a sample of nearly 4,500 nine to 10-year-old students from 200 primary schools in London, Birmingham and Leicester.

The children were assessed for a series of metabolic and cardiovascular risk factors, including blood fats, insulin resistance, fasting blood glucose levels, blood pressure and body fat. They were asked about their total time spent on screens, which include computers, and video games.

Complete information was obtained for 4,495 (2,337 girls and 2,158 boys) out of the 5,887 who took part in the study.

Around a third of the children spent less than an hour of screen time a day, but 28 per cent of the children said they clocked up one to two hours; 13 per cent said their tally was two to three hours, and 18 per cent said they spent more than three hours looking at screens every day. The team also noted that there was a strong trend between levels of screen time and higher levels of leptin, the hormone that controls appetite, and insulin resistance.

“It would be very difficult to carry out this research today as smartphones and tablets are so universal. Children today, therefore, spend even more time looking at a screen than when the original data set was taken,” Nightingale said.