TV, Games, Computers Make Teens Fatter

MONTREAL, Sept. 22 (UPI) — Increasing time spent in front of the television, playing video games and being on the Internet can increase body fat in teens, researchers in Canada say.

Lead author Tracie A. Barnett and her research team evaluated 744 participants in seventh grade from 10 Montreal schools who reported their own screen time and their level of physical activity four times per year — or a total of 20 times during the five-year study. The team measured height, weight and body fat of participants several times over the course of the study.

The study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, finds the majority of adolescents in the study maintained a typical ”flat” pattern of 25 to 30 hours of screen time per week, but close to 30 percent of adolescents had screen time patterns that increased, decreased or remained high over time.

“There is some concern that adolescents’ television, video and computer use is filling much of their discretionary time,” Barnett says in a statement. “Our findings show that youth are at greater risk of increased body fat if screen use increases through high school; one possible reason is that teens who increase their screen time are simultaneously reducing involvement in and opportunities for more active pursuits.”

Teens from the consistently low group exceeded 2 hours per day of screen time on average. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Pediatric Society recommend limiting screen use to 2 hours per day.

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