Children glued to screens 'at greater risk of diabetes'

Daily "screen time" of three or more hours is linked to several risk factors associated with the development of type 2 diabetes in children, according to a United Kingdom study.

The research revealed that the ponderal index, which is a measurement of body weight, skinfolds thickness and body fat, was higher for the children who reported 3 hours or more daily screen time when compared to those children who said that they spend an hour or less in front of these devices.

Diabetes is a disease where the body's ability to produce insulin is hindered, which causes abnormal level of glucose in the blood. Resistance to the pancreatic hormone makes it more hard to regulate energy levels and can result in diabetes, a lifelong condition.

Since young people are increasingly using devices such as tablets and smartphones, the study authors investigated if this risk also applied to children.

These children had more body fat and greater resistance to insulin-a hormone that regulates blood sugar-than their peers who spent an hour or less watching TV or using computers.

Previous research suggested adults are at risk of weight gain and diabetes if they spend too long glued to a screen.

Commenting on their findings, the researchers advise less screen time for children to lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.

"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".

Follow CNBC International on Twitter and Facebook. The children were asked the time they daily paid on screen including TV, using computers and games consoles.

According to the Express UK, only four percent of the kids said they never spent any time staring at screens, while just over a third (37 percent) said they spent an hour or less on it.

The research team looked at blood fats, fasting blood glucose levels, blood pressure and body fat in the children. Till now, unhealthy eating habits, lack of physical activity and family history were counted amongst the top causes of Type-2 diabetes amongst children. American kids are spending a lot of time in front of the screen.

The findings, published online in the journal of Archives of Disease in Childhood, indicated that one in five (18 percent) said they spent more than three hours on it everyday.

The researchers found that total body fat among the kids increased along with their screen time.

There was also a strong correlation between screen time and levels of a hormone known as leptin, which controls appetite. This is indispensable journalism, brought to you by the largest, most experienced newsroom in the region. We need your support to keep our talented reporters, editors and photographers holding government accountable, looking out for the public interest, and separating fact from fiction. Subscriptions can be home delivered in print, or digitally read on almost any mobile device or computer, and start as low as 25¢ per day.

  • Joanne Flowers