A change of screen culture needed to prevent metabolic syndrome in teens

According to a study presented during the 2019 annual Endocrine Society Meeting, metabolic syndrome in teens may be directly correlated with screen time and eating snacks.

“Metabolic syndrome includes high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess visceral adiposity and abnormal cholesterol levels. The syndrome increases a person’s risk for heart attack and stroke.”

Screen time is often associated with other negative behaviors such as snacking, eating excessively, and lack of movement.

Researchers found the teens spending 6 or more hours of screen time were more likely to develop metabolic syndrome. The odds were even higher for teens who reported snacking during those hours.

“Eating unhealthy snacks in front of screens is a habit that is probably harmful, but the relationship between this and obesity is well-known, but not with metabolic syndrome.” This research demonstrates that there is a relationship between snacking and metabolic syndrome.

A study of Cardiovascular Risks in Adolescents in Brazil analyzed the data from over 34,000 teens between the ages of 12 and 17. The teens were to write down their screen time habits daily and whether or not they were snacking.

“Snacking while watching TV was reported by 85.1% of the study population, and snacking while playing video games or using the computer was reported by 64%.”

“Strategies to assess and address metabolic syndrome in the pediatric population should aim at limiting unhealthy snacks while in front of screens,” Lead researcher Schaan said.

Shift in community and screen culture needed

Researchers recommend making an intervention on unhealthy habits that form during childhood. However, they believe that there may need to be a bigger shift in community culture.

As healthcare professionals we want to prompt a healthy lifestyle particularly at a young age. The habits we set as adolescents often transfer into adulthood.

To learn more: Metabolic Syndrome more likely in teens who snack while watching TV – Endocrine Today

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