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Can Your Smartphone Make You Fat?

THURSDAY, July 25, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- While you're watching your calories to avoid packing on extra pounds, you might also want to cut down on your smartphone usage, new research suggests.

Spending too much time on your smartphone is linked to a higher risk of obesity, investigators report.

Their study included 1,060 students at Simon Bolivar University in Colombia and was conducted from June to December 2018. There were 700 women, average age 19, and 360 men, average age 20.

Those who used their smartphone five or more hours a day increased their risk of obesity by 43%. Meanwhile, 26% of those who were overweight and 4.6% of those who were obese spent more than five hours a day on their smartphone.

The study also found that those who used their smartphone five or more hours a day were twice as likely to be less physically active and to consume more sugary drinks, fast food, sweets and snacks. However, only an association rather than a cause-and-effect link was observed.

The findings were to be presented Thursday at the annual American College of Cardiology (ACC) Latin America Conference, in Cartagena, Colombia. Such research is considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

"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," warned study author Mirary Mantilla-Morron. She's a cardiac pulmonary and vascular rehabilitation specialist at Simon Bolivar.

"The results of this study allow us to highlight one of the main causes of physical obesity, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease," Mantilla-Morron added in an ACC news release.

"We have also determined that the amount of time in which a person is exposed to the use of technologies -- specifically prolonged cellphone use -- is associated with the development of obesity," she concluded.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains how to prevent weight gain.

SOURCE: American College of Cardiology, news release, July 25, 2019

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