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Excessive smartphone use linked to a higher risk of obesity in young adults

Smartphones are becoming more and more integrated into our daily lives all the time, and new research has found a link between smartphone usage and obesity. A study focused on college students revealed that using a smartphone in excess of five hours each day was associated with a 43-percent higher risk of obesity.

The same students were found to be more likely to have additional lifestyle habits that increased the risk of other serious health complications as well, such as heart disease. 

Study lead author Mirary Mantilla-Morrón is a cardiac pulmonary and vascular rehabilitation specialist at the Health Sciences Faculty at the Simón Bolívar University in Colombia.

“It is important that the general population know and be aware that, although mobile technology is undoubtedly attractive for its multiple purposes, portability, comfort, access to countless services, information and entertainment sources, it should also be used to improve habits and healthy behaviors,” said Mantilla-Morrón.

“Spending too much time in front of the Smartphone facilitates sedentary behaviors, reduces the time of physical activity, which increases the risk of premature death, diabetes, heart disease, different types of cancer, osteoarticular discomfort and musculoskeletal symptoms.”

The investigation was focused on over 1,000 students attending Simón Bolívar University from June to December 2018. The study group consisted of 700 women and 360 men with an average age of 19 years and 20 years, respectively. 

The researchers found that the risk of obesity increased by 43 percent if a smartphone was used five or more hours a day. These participants were also twice as likely to drink sugary drinks, eat fast food or sweets, and to have decreased physical activity. Overall, 26 percent of the subjects who were overweight reported spending more than five hours using their device.

“The results of this study allow us to highlight one of the main causes of physical obesity, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease,” said Mantilla-Morrón. “We have also determined that the amount of time in which a person is exposed to the use of technologies – specifically prolonged cell phone use – is associated with the development of obesity.”

The research was presented at the ACC Latin America Conference 2019.

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

Image Credit: Anna Hoychuk / Shutterstock

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