How your smartphone could make you fat?

Excessive smartphone use can pile on the pounds.
Excessive smartphone use can pile on the pounds.

While you're watching your calories to avoid packing on extra pounds, you might also want to cut down on your smartphone usage, new research suggests.

Spending too much time on your smartphone is linked to a higher risk of obesity, investigators report.

Less physical activity

Their study included 1 060 students at Simon Bolivar University in Colombia and was conducted from June to December 2018. There were 700 women, average age 19, and 360 men, average age 20.

Those who used their smartphone five or more hours a day increased their risk of obesity by 43%. Meanwhile, 26% of those who were overweight and 4.6% of those who were obese spent more than five hours a day on their smartphone.

The study also found that those who used their smartphone five or more hours a day were twice as likely to be less physically active and to consume more sugary drinks, fast food, sweets and snacks. However, only an association rather than a cause-and-effect link was observed.

The findings were to be presented at the annual American College of Cardiology (ACC) Latin America Conference, in Cartagena, Colombia. Such research is considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Main cause of obesity

"Spending too much time in front of the smartphone facilitates sedentary behaviours, 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," warned study author Mirary Mantilla-Morron. She's a cardiac pulmonary and vascular rehabilitation specialist at Simon Bolivar.

"The results of this study allow us to highlight one of the main causes of physical obesity, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease," Mantilla-Morron added in an ACC news release.

"We have also determined that the amount of time in which a person is exposed to the use of technologies – specifically prolonged cellphone use – is associated with the development of obesity," she concluded.

Image credit: iStock

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Have you entered our Health of the Nation survey?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes
33% - 9326 votes
No
67% - 18757 votes
Vote