A recent study found that about 14.4 million children in India are overweight or obese. This makes childhood obesity one of the leading health concerns for Indian parents. Research states that on average, children and teenagers who spend over seven hours a day browsing the internet or playing games on electronic gadgets are at greater risk of obesity. Smartphone, Tablets, Kindle – these keep your child occupied for quite some time, but too much screen time may infuse unhealthy habits in them, which persist even as they grow up.
Obesity, Technology and Sedentary Behaviour
Overexposure to gadgets goes hand-in-hand with reduced physical activity. As children spend most of their leisure time glued to Smartphone watching videos on YouTube, playing games online, they spend little or no time outside playing or running around and burning those excess calories. Over time, they are unable to cope with any outdoor activities/exercise. This eventually leads to significant weight gain.
Too much time spent on electronic gadgets may lead to mindless eating and increased snacking. Many times the commercials featured in between videos prompt your child to crave for foods that are low in nutrition, and high in sodium, added sugar and fat. This type of food marketing largely influences children’s food preferences and in turn, affects their health.
How Overuse of Gadgets Interfere with Quality of Sleep?
Looking at your Smartphone just before going to bed will likely disrupt the quality of sleep long after you turn them off. Continuous exposure to gadgets not only causes digital fatigue in children but also exposes their eyes to Blue light. This light hampers the creation of ‘sleep hormone’ in the body. As a result, you find it hard to sleep. Children and teenagers who do not get adequate sleep as is required for their age are at higher risk of developing obesity.
Limit Your Child’s Screen Time
Experts suggest adolescents and children spend no more than two hours on Tablets and Smartphone.
• Encourage your children to get off the couch and engage in some sort of exercise/physical activity
• Focus on providing them with healthy snacks and food that will keep them fuller for a long time. Fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat milk, high-fibre foods should definitely be on the list. Make sure they do not skip breakfast and meals.
• Ensure that they restrain from using gadgets at least two hours before going to bed. Read them a book instead of handing them Kindle. The ill effects of gadget use should not be overlooked. Childhood obesity can lead to several health complications in adulthood, which is why it is imperative that you take adequate measures to ensure that your child maintains healthy body weight.