Obesity is a complex disease involving an excessive amount of body fat. Obesity isn't just a cosmetic concern. It is a medical problem that increases your risk of other diseases and health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and certain cancers.
A recent Singapore study reports that the longer kids are engaged with screens, the higher their likelihood of developing abdominal obesity. This is especially true for boys and those of Malay ethnicity.
The study used data from the Growing Up in Singapore Towards Healthy Outcomes study and included 307 mother–offspring pairs. Parents or caregivers recorded the length of time their child spent viewing television, handheld devices, and computer screens at ages 2 and 3 years. Magnetic resonance imaging was used to measure superficial and deep subcutaneous and visceral abdominal adipose tissue volumes at age 4.5 years.
Results showed that total screen and handheld device viewing times were positively associated with superficial and deep subcutaneous adipose tissue volumes, but not with visceral adipose tissue volume.
The associations seen for superficial and deep subcutaneous and visceral adipose tissue volumes were significant in boys, but not in girls. Specifically, each hour increase in daily total screen viewing time was associated with a rise of 24.3 mL in superficial subcutaneous, 17.6 mL in deep subcutaneous, and 7.8 mL in visceral adipose tissue volumes among boys.
Ethnicity-specific analyses revealed a relationship between total screen-viewing time and abdominal adiposity only in children of Malay ethnicity.
There was no link between television viewing time and abdominal adiposity.
More studies are warranted to validate the associations and assess interventions to cut screen viewing time for preventing excessive abdominal adiposity and its adverse cardiometabolic consequences.
Int J Obesity 2021;doi:10.1038/s41366-021-00864-9