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Fitness & Health

29th Jul 2019

Using your phone for five hours a day is linked to obesity

In a recent study, university students who used their phones for five or more hours each day had a 43 percent increased risk of obesity

Alex Roberts

Being glued to your phone seems to be bad for your health.

It’s not just social isolation that stems from using your phone excessively. There appears to be an increased risk of obesity, too.

You can essentially live your entire life through your phone. You can buy food, buy clothes, write and edit documents, watch TV, find a new partner and even monitor your sleep through that little handheld device.

But phone use is undeniably linked to inactivity – and that poses a serious health risk.

In a recent study, university students who used their phones for five or more hours each day had a 43% increased risk of obesity. They were also more likely to have other lifestyle habits that put them at greater risk of heart disease.

Why excessive phone use is linked to obesity

  • Scientists followed 1060 students from June to December 2018
  • This group consisted of 700 women and 360 men
  • Men were 36.1 percent likely to be overweight and 42.6 percent likely to be obese
  • Women were 63.9 percent likely to be overweight and 57.4 percent likely to be obese
  • Where smartphones were used for five or more hours a day, researchers found the risk of obesity increased by as much as 43 percent

Students were twice as likely to drink more sugary drinks, fast food, sweets and snacks. They were also likely to have decreased levels of physical activity. 26 percent who were overweight and 4.6 percent who were obese spent more than five hours using their device.

Phone use is a relatively new phenomenon, so there hasn’t been much research into its impact on your body. However, researchers are clear of the risks involved.

Mirary Mantilla-Morrón is a cardiac pulmonary and vascular rehabilitation specialist who led the study.

Mantilla-Morrón says: “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 behaviours.

“Spending too much time in front of the smartphone facilitates sedentary behaviours, 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.”