Snacking While Watching TV
Author: Annliya George
Are you someone who sits in front of the TV for long hours, while munching your favorite snack? Well, then this is for you. It is common for most teenagers to come back home from a long day at school and slack off for a bit by watching TV. And watching TV is accompanied by eating – either dinner or snacks. Let's be honest, who doesn’t like munching on their favorite food while bingeing on Netflix?
The findings of this new study will surely make you rethink your habits. Cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus may not seem like a threat to teenagers. Snacking while watching TV or playing video games or using the computer, increases the risk of developing metabolic syndrome or MetS. MetS is a cluster of conditions like high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels. This can increase the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Metabolic syndrome is a fairly common condition that is afflicting 25 percent of the adult population and approximately 5.4 percent of children and adolescents in the United States and other countries presently.
Over the past few years, there have been various attempts made by people to increase awareness about restricting screen time of children because of the many health risks associated with it. "The take-home message is limiting your screen time is important, but when it is not possible, avoiding snack consumption may help you to reduce your risk of metabolic syndrome," said lead researcher Beatriz Schaan.
A nationwide survey conducted among Brazilian teens by the Study on Cardiovascular Risks in Adolescents (ERICA) collected data from around 33900 teenagers from ages 12 - 17. They measured teens' waist, blood pressure, and took blood samples to measure blood glucose, HDL-cholesterol, and triglycerides. About 60 percent of teens were females and the average age was 14.6. 85 percent said they usually eat snacks in front of the TV, while 64 percent usually ate snacks while using the computer or playing video games.
About 2.5 percent of the teens had metabolic syndrome, teenagers who spent six or more hours a day in front of screens were 71 percent more likely to have metabolic syndrome, the findings suggested. "As we live surrounded by screens, especially young people, sometimes it is not feasible to eliminate or reduce screen time. In these cases, avoiding snack consumption may be easier. Beyond reducing screen time, interventions aiming to reduce snacking in front of screens among youth should be evaluated," Schaan concluded.
It should be noted that the risk for heart disease was observed only in teens who have the habit of eating snacks in front of screens. As long as you do not snack while watching TV you’re good to go. While it might be hard to let go of old habits, it's high time we realize the health hazards and make hard but important decisions. Little things you can do to break the habit can be by stopping yourself from carrying the bag of snacks to the couch, telling your parents to stop you, eating before or after watching TV. These habits will take a long time to die but will discipline and self-control you would save yourself huge hospital bills and also help you lead a longer life.
Author: Annliya George
Annliya is a high school senior in India. She is interested in healthcare and entrepreneurship. In her free time you would find her reading or singing.