*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on EurekAlert!
A new national study finds that children in the United States with greater screen time usage at ages 9-10 are more likely to gain weight one year later.
The study, publishing in Pediatric Obesity, found that each additional hour spent on virtually all forms of screen time was associated with a higher body mass index (BMI) one year later. In particular, researchers found that each extra hour spent watching or streaming television, YouTube videos, video games, video chat, and texting led to a higher risk of weight gain one year later. At the start of the study, 33.7% of children were considered overweight or obese, and this increased to 35.5% one year later, a proportion that is expected to rise in the late teens and early adulthood.
“Screen time is often sedentary and may replace time for physical activity. Children are exposed to more food advertisements and are prone to snacking and overeating while distracted in front of screens,” said lead author, Jason Nagata, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco.
“The study was conducted prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but its findings are especially relevant for the pandemic,” noted Nagata. “With remote learning, the cancellation of youth sports and social isolation, children have been exposed to unprecedented levels of screen time.”