Teenagers who sit for hours watching TV, using the computer or playing video games while eating unhealthy snacks are at increased risk heart diseases and diabetes, scientists say.
The study found that these teens are at risk of developing metabolic syndrome - a cluster of risk factors including increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels - that elevate 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.Beatriz Schaan, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Braz
The study included data on 33,900 teens ages 12 to 17. Almost 60 per cent of the teens were female, and the average age was 14.6. Half of the teens were physically active; 85 per cent said they usually eat snacks in front of the TV, while 64 per cent usually ate snacks while using the computer or playing video games.
The researchers found 2.5 per cent of the teens had metabolic syndrome. Those who spent six or more hours a day in front of screens were 71 per cent more likely to have metabolic syndrome compared with those who spent less time in front of screens. However, heightened risk was only seen in those who reported usually eating snacks in front of screens.
There was no association between screen time and metabolic syndrome among teens who reported no snacking in front of screens. Among teens who reported habitually eating snacks in front of the TV or computer, the risk for metabolic syndrome rose the longer teens spent in front of screens.