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Person Using Smartphone Screen Time Health Effects

More Screen Time Associated With Less Healthy Lifestyle

The proliferation of smartphones, tablets, and tv-connected devices in recent years has led to an increase in screen time. According to a recent study, heavy total screen time is associated with poorer dietary choices, poor sleep quality, and less physical activity 

Participants in the study included 926 people over the age of 18 who owned a television and at least one other device with a screen. They completed a survey that assessed screen time across multiple devices, dietary habits, sleep duration and quality, perceived stress, and levels of physical activity. Participants were categorized as heavy screen users (17.5 hours per day), moderate (11.25 hours per day), or light (7 hours per day).

Heavy screen users reported the least healthy dietary patterns compared to moderate and light screen users. When the researchers looked at dietary patterns by type of screen viewed, they found that heavy users of tv and smartphones had less healthy dietary patterns than heavy users of tv-connected devices, laptops, and tablets. In addition, binge watching was heavily associated with less healthy dietary patterns and increased frequency of fast food consumption.

Heavy screen users also reported the highest perceived stress scores, the lowest numbers of hours of sleep, the poorest sleep quality, and the lowest amount of physical activity. Both heavy and moderate screen users reported a significantly higher BMI compared to light users.

The study was conducted by researchers from Arizona State University. It was published online ahead of print on August 27, 2020 in the journal BMC Public Health.

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