Spending hours each day glued to a smartphone could greatly increase your risk of obesity, a new study says.
Researchers found that college students who spent five hours or more on their cell phones were 43 percent more likely to be obese than their peers who had less screen time.
That’s because the phone-addicted students were twice as likely to drink sugary beverages and eat fast food and candy, and two times less likely to exercise.
The study, by Simón Bolívar University in Barranquilla, Colombia, is the latest in a field of research that suggests phone usage can disrupt your metabolism at night, cause sleep deprivation and impact self-control – all of which could drive obesity.
According to lead author Professor Mirary Mantilla-Morrón, the study provides enough evidence for doctors to see cell phones as a serious factor when assessing a patient’s health.
‘The results of this study allow us to highlight one of the main causes of physical obesity, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease,’ Professor Mantilla-Morrón, a cardiac pulmonary and vascular rehabilitation specialist at Simón Bolívar University, said.
For the study, the team looked at more than 1,000 male and female college students at the university between June 2018 and December 2018.
They tracked daily smartphone usage, almost all on Androids.
Their results, shared today at the American College of Cardiology Latin America Conference, showed that the students were 43 percent more likely to be obese if a smartphone was used five or more hours a day.
Those who used their cellphone that often were also more likely to consume sugary drinks and fast food, and not participate in physical activity.
About 25 percent of the participants who were overweight and nearly five percent who were obese spent more than five hours using their device.
Women who used their smartphones more than five hours were almost twice as likely to overweight as men and just slightly more likely to be obese.
‘It is important that the general population knows…that, although mobile technology is undoubtedly attractive for its multiple purposes…it should also be used to improve habits and healthy behaviors,’ said Professor Mantilla-Morrón.
‘Spending too much time in front of [a] 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.’
In recent years, a field of research has emerged about how smartphones can negatively effect our health.
This study comes on the heels of several others that have linked phone or tablet usage to being dangerously overweight.
A 2016 study from Harvard’s TH Chan School of Public Health found that teens who spent more than five hours a day in front of a screen were more than 40 percent more likely to be obese and twice as likely to drink a sugary beverage every day.
And a study earlier this year from Rice University in Texas found that multitasking on smartphones led to decreased self-control when it came to fast food.