Use of smartphones for more than 5 hours daily increases risk of obesity

Use of smartphones for 5 or more hours daily increases the risk of obesity, suggests a new study presented at the recently concluded ACC Latin America Conference 2019 in Cartagena, Colombia.

Students who used their smartphones for 5 or more hours daily had a 43% increased risk of obesity and were more likely to have other lifestyle habits that increase the risk of heart disease.

Researchers analyzed 1060 students (700 women and 360 men with an average age of 19 years and 20 years respectively) of the Health Sciences Faculty at the Simón Bolívar University during June to December 2018.

  • Participating men were 36.1% likely to be overweight and 42.6% likely to be obese.
  • Women were around 64% likely to be overweight and 57.4% likely to be obese.
  • The risk of obesity increased by 43% if a smartphone was used 5 or more hours a day, as participating students were twice as likely to drink more sugary drinks, fast food, sweets, snacks and have decreased physical activity.
  • 26% of the subjects who were overweight and 4.6% who were obese spent more than 5 hours using their device.

This rise in the incidence of obesity among people who use their smartphones for prolonged hours daily has been attributed to a decrease in physical activity.

Smartphones have become an integral part of our daily life now; one cannot imagine a life without them. They have certainly made life easy and convenient, but is life really better now than what it was before we all had a smartphone? This revolution has come at the cost of our health, both physical and social. People who use phones a lot seem to suffer from increased levels of feeling isolated, loneliness, depression and anxiety. Dependence on technology has adversely affected our memory and attention span. Terms like “text claw,” “Blackberry thumb,” “cellphone elbow”, “tech neck”, “nomophobia” are becoming a part of our conversations.

The above study is another in the list of emerging evidence about the negative repercussions of too much use of technology. There is a need to create awareness that excess use of smartphones or any gadget does not give enough time to relax between activities and rejuvenate, particularly mentally.

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