Children Exposed To 3 Hours Of Screen Time Risk Type 2 Diabetes Development, Study Says

By Amanda Moore, Parent Herald March 15, 04:00 am
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Diabetes cases reach 422 million as poorer countries see steep rises
Children who spend more than three hours watching television or using the computer have been found to have diabetes biomarkers in a new study.
(Photo : Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

A recent study showed that children who spend three hours or more of screen time watching television or playing games on computers or consoles have higher chances of developing type 2 diabetes. Experts from the University of London studied the links between kids screen time and diabetes risks.

Researchers analyzed some 4,500 children's data culled from 2004 to 2007 for the study published in the Archives of Diseases Childhood. Of the kids from the ages of nine to 10-years-old, 18 percent or one in five said they regularly spend over three hours of screen time at home. More boys (22 percent) than girls (14 percent) spend more amounts of screen time.

The experts noted that kids who were glued to the screen over three hours presented type 2 diabetes biomarkers. These children have signs their bodies weren't processing sugar well, with experts noting an 11 percent higher insulin level versus the kids who had only an hour of screen time.

These kids at risk of type 2 diabetes also presented higher fat mass in their bodies, as evident in the skin folds. The experts also learned some of these kids developed insulin resistance.

The experts pointed out their study is another fitting reminder for parents to regulate screen time among children. "Our findings suggest that reducing screen time may be beneficial in reducing type 2 diabetes risk factors, in both boys and girls and in different ethnic groups from an early age," the researchers wrote in their study, as per Independent.

The experts, however, have not factored in screen time for smartphone and tablet use in kids based on the period covered in the study. Too much screen time exposure likely affects and involve a high number of children in the current period, according to The Verge. 

The study's other limitation also presented a casual and not a direct link between screen time and diabetes. Even so, the experts said it's common sense. "At some point, you've got to say, 'maybe there's something going on here,'" child development expert Mark Tremblay said.

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