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study links excess weight in children to the phone and television


A recent study found that children who use smartphones or watch TV while eating their meals are more likely to gain weight.

According to researchers at the Portuguese University of Minho, children's preoccupation with screens while eating prevents them from realizing that they are full.

The researchers said that children who were allowed to use smart devices or watch TV while eating were 15 percent more likely to gain weight compared to those who were not allowed to do so.

A team from the university studied the eating habits of 735 children, between the ages of 6 and 10, and asked each child about the foods they had eaten during the past 24 hours, and asked parents about their rules about using screens at mealtimes.

Several factors often work together and increase your child's risk of being overweight:

Diet. Regularly eating high-calorie foods, such as fast food, baked goods and ready-to-eat snacks, may cause your child to gain weight. Candy and sweet dishes can also cause weight gain, and much evidence points to sugary drinks, including fruit juices and sports drinks, as causes of obesity in some people.

Lack of exercise. Children who do not exercise are more likely to be overweight because they do not burn as many calories. Spending too much time in sedentary activities, such as watching TV or playing video games, also contributes to the problem. In addition, television programs often include advertisements for unhealthy foods.

Family factors. If your child comes from an overweight family, he or she may gain weight. This happens especially if the child grows up in an environment where high-calorie foods are constantly available and there is no interest in physical activities.

Psychological factors. Personal, parental, and family stress may increase a child's risk of obesity. Some children eat excessively to cope with problems or to deal with some feelings, such as stress or fighting boredom. Their parents may have similar tendencies.

Social and economic factors. In some communities, access to food is limited, and people find it difficult to go to supermarkets. As a result, they may buy foods that are easy to prepare, such as frozen meals, crackers and biscuits. Additionally, people living in low-income neighborhoods may not have access to a safe place to exercise.

Taking certain medications. Some prescription medications can increase your risk of obesity. These medications include prednisone, lithium, amitriptyline, and paroxetine.

Obesity in children often causes complications that affect the child's physical, social and emotional well-being.

Physical complications

Physical complications of obesity in children may include:

Type 2 diabetes. This chronic disease affects the way your child's body uses sugar (glucose). Obesity and sedentary lifestyles increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.

High cholesterol and high blood pressure problems. Malnutrition can cause your child to develop one or both of these conditions. These factors can contribute to the buildup of plaque within the arteries, causing the arteries to narrow and harden, and potentially leading to heart attacks or strokes later in life.

Joint pain. Excess weight causes extra stress on your hips and knees. Obesity in children may cause pain, as well as injuries to the hips, knees and back.

Breathing problems. Asthma is more common in overweight children. These children also become more likely to develop obstructive sleep apnea, a potentially serious disorder in which a child's breath repeatedly stops and then comes back during sleep.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. This disorder, which usually causes no symptoms, causes fatty deposits to build up inside the liver. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease can cause scarring within the liver and damage it.

Social and emotional complications

Children with obesity may be teased or bullied by their peers. This can cause a lack of self-esteem and an increased risk of depression and anxiety.


To prevent your child from gaining weight, you can:

Set a role model for him. Provide him with healthy foods, encourage him to engage in regular physical activities, and make sure to turn this into a family interest. This will benefit everyone and no family member will feel isolated.

Make healthy snacks an option. Options include hot air popcorn with no added butter, a fruit meal with low-fat yogurt, baby carrots with hummus, or a whole grain meal with low-fat milk.

Introduce new foods several times. There's no need to feel frustrated if your baby doesn't immediately like a new food. It usually takes several times of trying a food for your child to accept it.

Choose rewards other than food. It is bad behavior to promise candy to a child in exchange for good behavior.

Make sure your child gets enough sleep. Some studies suggest that getting too little sleep may increase the risk of obesity. Sleep deprivation may also cause a hormonal imbalance, leading to an increase in appetite.

Also make sure that your child visits the doctor for good health check-ups at least once a year. During this visit, the doctor measures your child's height and weight, and calculates his body mass index. Any significant increase in your child's BMI percentile rank over one year is a potential sign that your child is at risk of being overweight.

journalist since 2011, member of the Journalists Syndicate, graduate of the University of Montreal, Journalism and News Editing Division, media advisor, He writes about health, skin care and relaxation.