How Technology Is Causing Childhood Obesity
The rapidly increasing number of overweight or obese children are undoubtedly alarming. In the U.S., for example, approximately a third of children and teenagers are either obese or overweight. Studies have shown that on average, an American child spends at least seven hours a day watching television, playing video games and browsing the internet. Many parents are nowadays using technology to keep their children occupied so as to perform their duties. What they do not know or overlook is that this technology is causing health problems, such as obesity, in these children. Let’s look at how technology may be the biggest risk factor of obesity in children
Is technology causing children obesity?
Technology drives sedentary behavior
Children who are addicted to technology can spend over 10 hours a day playing video games, watching television or going through internet pages. This means that they do not have time to go outdoors and play so as to burn calories. To make it worse, the children are likely to be eating snacks most of the time they are seated. Therefore technology tends to increase snacking and unhealthy eating. These children usually want to consume sugary foods or drinks most of the time they are in front of those computers or televisions. All these cause obesity.
Technology also interferes with children sleeping
This is worse when children have televisions or computers in their bedroom. These children may sleep very late in the night just to watch their late-night programs or chat with friends. This means that they will have less time to sleep, which increases and reduces production of ghrelin and leptin respectively. Ghrelin is a hormone that sends signals to the brain when you are hungry whereas leptin is the hormone that notifies you when you are full. As a result, children who do not get enough sleep usually consume high amount of calories per day because they eat more frequently and in large portions. These cause obesity.
Technology also exposes children to content that can cause obesity
Studies have shown that children get attracted to food advertisements and drink commercials they watch on TV or internet. These commercials usually influence children’s choice of foods and drinks. In most cases, the foods and drinks advertised are unhealthy and therefore put them at risk of health problems. The common advertisements are sugary sodas and unhealthy and/or processed foods and snacks. As children prefer these foods and drinks, they increase the risk of obesity.
Therefore technology is good but it has to be regulated. As a parent or guardian, limit your children’s screen time. Pick interesting activities for them and encourage them to spend more time outdoors, playing.