image courtesy : YouTube. toddler watching television

Children who watch TV or use smartphones or tablets for more than three hours a day may be at a higher risk of developing diabetes, a new study has warned. Daily screen time of three or more hours is linked to several risk factors associated with the development of diabetes in children, researchers said.

Meanwhile now new research suggests children who spend too much time in front of screens could also be at risk.

A research team studied a sample of nearly 4,500 9 to10-year-old pupils from 200 primary schools in London, Birmingham and Leicester.

The scientists looked for a series of metabolic and cardiovascular risk factors.

Further, there was also a strong link between a daily quota of three or more hours of screen time and levels of leptin, the hormone that controls appetite, glucose and insulin resistance, the researchers said.

They also studied adiposity, which describes total body fat, and, crucially, insulin resistance, which occurs when cells fail to respond to insulin, the hormone produced by the pancreas to control levels of blood glucose.

Study author author Dr Claire Nightingale, from St George’s college at the University of London, said: “Our findings suggest that reducing screen time may be beneficial in reducing type 2 diabetes risk factors, in both boys and girls and in different ethnic groups from an early age.

“This is particularly relevant, given rising levels of type 2 diabetes, the early emergence of type 2 diabetes risk, and recent trends suggesting that screen time related activities are increasing in childhood and may pattern screen-related behaviours in later life.”

Children who reported spending three or more hours of daily screen time showed high ponderal index,an indicator of weight in relation to height,and skinfolds thickness and fat mass,indicators of total body fat,than in those who said they spent an hour or less on it.

Boys (22 per cent) were more likely than girls (14 per cent) to say they spent three or more hours on screen time, as were African-Caribbean (23 per cent) kids compared with their white European (16 per cent) or South Asian peers (16 per cent).