Teens who spend several hours a day on smartphones are more likely to fall into the overweight category as they are less active physically and have worse diets, according to a new study.
The ‘Korea Youth Risk Behaviour Web-Based Survey’ analysed data from 53,000 adolescents to see if there is a link between higher levels of smartphone usage and poor diet and health.
The results are conclusive, with just two or three hours of screen time harming young people’s lives.
Those who spent two hours or more a day on smartphones had a diet that included more processed foods and a lack of vegetables and fruits.
This is likely a contributing factor to weight gain as a greater proportion of teens are either obese or overweight when using devices for at least three hours a day.
“These results do not surprise me considering that screen time is a totally sedentary activity occupying time in which teens could be participating in sports or other physical activities,” Dr. Rekha B. Kumar said.
While the results are alarming, there are simple steps that young people can take to improve their health.
Experts recommend creating screen time limits, keeping food diaries, setting timers to encourage standing up and moving, and putting devices away before bed to improve sleep quality.
The study also found that the way that people use their smartphones can also impact eating habits.
Teens who used devices primarily to look up information and find out new things had better diets compared to the ones that used them for games, watching videos, and logging onto social media.