There’s something unsettling about seeing an obese teen sitting glued to a tablet device. “They should be running around outside,” our conscious whispers to us. But a new study published by the International Journal of Obesity claims we can’t just blame technology for weight gain in teenagers. When it comes down to it, the focus goes back to diet and exercise.
Researchers followed 621 teens from ages 14 to 16 to discover how being sedentary affects weight gain, taking into account screen time dedicated to schooling versus leisure. The study found that excessive internet use is not necessarily tied to weight gain; rather, those who were overweight at the beginning of the study were 20 times more likely to be overweight at the end. In conclusion, internet use could reinforce a preexisting risk of being overweight, but isn’t the main cause for weight gain.
“It has long been known that overweight and obesity track over time,” Dr. Paul Collings of the Bradford Institute for Health Research in the U.K. told Reuters Health. “From an energy balance perspective, active lifestyles and a balanced diet will help to prevent obesity.”
Currently, there are 42 million obese children under five years old in the world (shocking, we know). Where do you think obesity starts? And if screen time-regulation is not the answer, how can we as parents and a society prevent our children from becoming overweight?