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Less screen time may reduce diabetes risk factors in children

Researchers from St George's, University of London, and the University of Glasgow assessed nearly 5,000 children for type 2 diabetes risk factors and their daily time spent watching TV and using computers.
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Spending three or more hours a day in front of TVs, computers and games consoles is linked to risk factors associated with the development of type 2 diabetes in children, say researchers.

The team from St Georges, University of London and the University of Glasgow asked 4,495 nine to ten year old children about their daily screen time for the study between 2004-07.

6.5

the average number of hours a day that children aged five to 16 spend in front of a screen.

Source: Childwise report 2015

The pupils from 200 primary schools in London, Birmingham and Leicester were also assessed for metabolic and cardiovascular risk factors.

Screen time and leptin link

Levels of ponderal index, an indicator

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Spending three or more hours a day in front of TVs, computers and games consoles is linked to risk factors associated with the development of type 2 diabetes in children, say researchers. 


There was a strong trend between three or more hours of screen time and
fasting glucose. Picture: iStock

The team from St George’s, University of London and the University of Glasgow asked 4,495 nine to ten year old children about their daily screen time for the study between 2004-07. 

6.5

the average number of hours a day that children aged five to 16 spend in front of a screen.

Source: Childwise report 2015

The pupils from 200 primary schools in London, Birmingham and Leicester were also assessed for metabolic and cardiovascular risk factors. 

Screen time and leptin link

Levels of ponderal index, an indicator of weight in relation to height, and the thickness and fat mass of skinfolds, indicators of total body fat, were higher in children reporting three hours or more of screen time compared to those reporting an hour or less.

There was a strong trend between three or more hours of screen time and levels of leptin, the hormone that controls appetitie, fasting glucose and insulin resistance. 

The researchers said the findings suggested that reducing screen time may be beneficial in reducing diabetes risk factors in children from an early age. 


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. http://adc.bmj.com/lookup/doi/10.1136/archdischild-2016-312016. 

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