A new research by Brazilian scientists disclosed that teens who sit for hours watching TV, playing video games or using the computer while also eating unhealthy snacks are at a great risk of getting diseases including heart diseases and diabetes.
The study discovered that these teens are at an increased risk of developing metabolic syndrome – a bunch of risk factors including increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels. This syndrome increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
“The take home message is limiting your screen time is important, but when it is not possible, avoiding snack consumption may help you to reduce your risk of metabolic syndrome,” said lead researcher Beatriz Schaan.
The study included data on 33,900 teens aged between 12 and 17. The team measured the teens’ waists and blood pressure, and took blood samples to measure blood glucose, HDL-cholesterol, and triglycerides.
85% of the teens said that they usually eat snacks in front of TV, while 64% ate snacks while using computer or playing video games.
The researchers discovered that 2.5% of the teens had metabolic syndrome. Those who spent six or more hours a day in front of screens were 71% more likely to have metabolic syndrome as compared to those who spent less time in front of screens.
Moreover, no link was found between screen time and metabolic syndrome among those teens who reported eating no snacks in front of screens.
“As we live surrounded by screens, especially young people, sometimes it is not feasible to eliminate or reduce screen time,” Schaan said. “In these cases, avoiding snack consumption may be easier.
Beyond reducing screen time, interventions aiming to reduce snacking in front of screens among youth should be evaluated.”