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Reducing screen time could lower diabetes risk, research shows

Children who spend three hours or more looking at screens are likely to be increasing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to an observational study

Children who spend three hours or more looking at screens are likely to be increasing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to an observational study.


By reducing the time children spend looking at screens, it could reduce the risk of diabetes, study finds
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Researchers tested almost 4,500 nine and ten year olds from primary schools in London, Birmingham and Leicester for a series of metabolic and cardiovascular risk factors.

The tests included insulin resistance, fasting blood glucose levels, blood fats, inflammatory chemicals, blood pressure and body fat. Children were asked how much time they spent looking at games consoles, computers and TV.

Emerging patterns

‘Our findings suggest that reducing screen time may be beneficial in reducing type 2 diabetes risk factors in both boys and girls and in different ethnic groups from an early age,’ said the researchers.

‘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 [create a] pattern [for] screen-related behaviours in later life.’

They found strong graded associations between screen time, adiposity and insulin resistance and said that the observations are of considerable public health interest. It was concluded that their findings suggested that reducing screen time could support early prevention of type 2 diabetes.

But they added that evidence from randomised controlled trials is now needed.


Nightingale CM, Rudnicka AR, Donin AS et al (2017) Screen time is associated with adiposity and insulin resistance in children. Archives of Disease in Childhood. doi: 10.1136/archdischild-2016-312016.

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