Electronic devices 'may put children at risk of diabetes'

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Electronic devices 'may put children at risk of diabetes'

"This is particularly relevant, given rising levels of type 2 diabetes, the early emergence of type 2 diabetes risk, and recent trends suggesting that screen time related activities are increasing in childhood and may pattern screen-related behaviours in later life", they said.

Those with more than three hours' screen time a day were already showing warning signs of type two diabetes, according to the study published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood journal.

The study was carried out across 200 United Kingdom based primary schools and sampled some 4,500 children.

Previous studies have elaborated upon how adults spending long periods of time in-front of their screens are at an increased risk of gaining weight and developing type 2 diabetes, whether such a possible association exists in children too, still needs more research.

The children's cholesterol, insulin resistance, fasting blood sugar levels, markers of inflammation, blood pressure and body fat were measured. The children were asked the time they daily paid on screen including TV, using computers and games consoles. Slightly more than one-third reported getting less than one hour of screen time each day.

Researchers found the more time children spent watching a screen, the higher their skinfold thickness, insulin resistance and fat mass, even after account was taken of family background, household income and physical activity.

However the study did not follow up on the children to see whether they actually went on to develop diabetes.

The findings showed that children with increased exposure to digital screens may be at risk of having high adiposity levels, which describes total body fat, and, crucially, insulin resistance, which occurs when cells fail to respond to insulin, the hormone produced by the pancreas to control levels of blood glucose.

Since young people are increasingly using devices such as tablets and smartphones, the study authors investigated if this risk also applied to children.

The researchers found that total body fat among the kids increased along with their screen time.

They discovered a trend in the children who watched more TV had more body fat and higher levels of the hormone leptin, which controls appetite.

However, the findings add to the body of research showing that spending lots of time glued to screens might not be the healthiest habit - especially for children.

The American Academy of Pediatrics provides more information on screen time for kids.

Boys (22%) were more likely than girls (14%) to say they spent three or more hours on screen time, as were African-Caribbean (23%) kids compared with their white European (16%) or South Asian peers (16%).

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