Could Your Cell Phone Be Making You Overweight?

It seems like every day there’s a new reason we should be less attached to our phones, from blue light that messes up our sleep cycles to tech neck. Now there’s another one, and it’s a biggie: Spending five or more hours per day on your smart phone might increase your odds of obesity, particularly for young people, according to new research from the American College of Cardiology.

The study followed college students and discovered that those who used their smartphones five or more hours a day had a 43 percent increased risk of obesity, since excessive phone use is linked to a decrease in physical activity. They were also more likely to have other lifestyle habits that upped their odds of heart disease, including being twice as likely to eat fast food, sugary foods and sweetened drinks.

“It is important that the general population know and be aware that although mobile technology is undoubtedly attractive for its multiple purposes, portability, comfort, access to countless services, information and entertainment sources, it should also be used to improve habits and healthy behaviors,” Mirary Mantilla-Morrón, the lead study author and a cardiac pulmonary and vascular rehabilitation specialist at the Health Sciences Faculty at the Simón Bolívar University in Barranquilla, Colombia, has said. “Spending too much time in front of the smartphone facilitates sedentary behaviors, reduces the time of physical activity, which increases the risk of premature death, diabetes, heart disease, different types of cancer, osteoarticular discomfort and musculoskeletal symptoms.”

The researchers followed 1,060 students — 700 women and 360 men — at Simón Bolívar University for six months last year. In addition to the increased obesity risk for those who spent five or more hours a day on their phone, 26% of those people were overweight. “The results of this study allow us to highlight one of the main causes of physical obesity, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease,” Mantilla-Morrón has said. “We have also determined that the amount of time in which a person is exposed to the use of technologies — specifically prolonged cell phone use — is associated with the development of obesity.”

The next time you reach for your phone to scroll through Instagram or play a round of Candy Crush, think about skipping that screen time. Your body – and brain – will thank you!

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