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May 20, 2014 11:25 AM EDT

Little Exercise, Heavy Use Of Electronic Media Linked To Increased Risk For Type 2 Diabetes In Children

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Low levels of physical activity and heavy use of electronic media constitute a significant health risk for children, according to a recent study.

Researchers from the University of Finland found that little exercise combined with heavy use of electronic media and sedentary behavior are linked to an increased risk for type 2 diabetes and vascular diseases already in 6- to 8-year-old children.

For the study, researchers recruited more than 500 children for the onset measurements in 2007 to 2009. The study applies scientifically sound methods to extensively study the lifestyles, health and well-being of children. The study provides novel information on children's physical activity and sedentary behavior, nutrition, physical condition, body composition, metabolism, vascular system, brain function, oral health, life quality, effects of exercise and nutrition on children's health and well-being, and their effects on health care costs.

They found that low levels of physical activity - and unstructured physical activity in particular - are linked to increased risk factors for type 2 diabetes and vascular diseases in children. Furthermore, heavy use of electronic media, and especially watching too much TV and videos, was linked to higher levels of risk factors in children. The highest levels of risk factors were found in children with lowest levels of physical activity and highest levels of electronic media time.

Researchers said heavy use of electronic media, and especially watching too much TV and videos, increased the levels of risk factors not only in sedentary children, but also in children who are physically active. Moreover, irregular eating frequency and an unhealthy diet were linked to increased risk factors for type 2 diabetes and vascular diseases.

The nutrition-related factors partially explain the link between heavy use of electronic media and the risk factors, researchers said.

The findings were recently published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, an esteemed journal in the field of exercise and nutrition.

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