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Increase In Obesity, Decrease In Sleep Due To TV And Other Devices In Kids’ Rooms

October 23, 2012
Image Caption: Electronic devices in kids' bedrooms at night can lead to sleeplessness and can raise their risk of obesity. Credit: Xavier MARCHANT / Shutterstock

Connie K. Ho for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online

A study by researchers from the University of Alberta has found that children lose sleep and develop bad lifestyle habits when there are electronic devices in the bedroom.

The study included a group of grade five students in Alberta and researchers discovered that, if they had as few as one hour of sleep more, they could increase the likelihood of not being overweight or obese. The researchers defined the electronic devices that affected children in the bedroom as items like computers, cell phones, televisions and video games. Those who had one or more of these items had a greater likelihood of being obese or overweight.

“If you want your kids to sleep better and live a healthier lifestyle, get the technology out of the bedroom,” explained the study´s co-author Paul Veugelers, a professor in the School of Public Health, in a prepared statement.

The scientists believe that this is the first study to look at the connection between diet, physical activity and sleep among children in relation to electronic devices. Almost 3,400 students participated in the study, detailing their nighttime sleep routine as well as the number of opportunities available to use electronics. The results showed that half of the students had access to a DVD player, a television or a video game console while five percent of kids had all three items. As well, 21` percent had a computer and 17 percent owned a cell phone.

Based on the findings, the team of investigators discovered that children who could use at least one of the electronic devices had a 1.47 higher chance of being overweight compared to kids who did not have access to any electronic devices. For children who had all three devices, the likelihood increased to 2.57 times as compared to kids who had no opportunities to use electronics. In particular, increased sleep also caused a heightened level of physical activity and healthier diet choices.

The researchers believe that, currently, children are not sleeping as much as kids in previous generations. Specifically, two-thirds of children are not sleeping the recommended numbers of hours of sleep. A healthy amount of sleep has been linked to healthier lifestyle, more academic success and fewer problems related to moodiness.

“It´s important to teach these children at an earlier age and teach them healthy habits when they are younger,” commented the study´s co-author Christina Fung, whose study was published in the September edition of the journal Pediatric Obesity.

The research addresses health concerns that are plaguing the health system in the United States as rates of child obesity are skyrocketing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the U.S., the numbers have tripled since 1980. Specifically, there is approximately 17 percent of 12.5 million adolescents and children between the ages of two and 19 years of age who are considered obese. Along with factors like sleep, the CDC pinpoints factors like racial and ethnic differences as contributing to the obesity issue. From 2007 to 2008, more Hispanic boys between the ages of two and 19 years of age were found to be obese as compared to non-Hispanic white boys; similarly, non-Hispanic black girls had a higher likelihood of being obese as compared to non-Hispanic white girls.


Source: Connie K. Ho for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online



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