Phone, TV, social media use tied to more sugar, caffeine in teens: McMaster study

Teens who spend more time watching T-V, talking on mobile phones and using social media, a new study says, are more likely to drink sugared or caffeinated drinks than others.

That’s the finding of a new study conducted by researchers at Hamilton’s McMaster University.

They looked at U.S. data from 32,418 students in Grades 8 and 10 and found those who spent an additional hour per day on TV were at 32 per cent higher risk of exceeding World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations for sugar.

They were also at a 28 per cent increased risk of exceeding WHO recommendations for caffeine.
“There is a trend towards reduced energy drink and soda consumption between 2013 and 2016 which is our latest data, but greater electronic device use, particularly TV, is linked to more consumption of added sugar and caffeine among adolescents,” says pediatrician Dr. Katherine Morrison, who led the research team.

Each hour per day of talking on a mobile phone or using social media was also linked to increased risk of exceeding both added sugar and caffeine recommendations.

But playing video games was only weakly linked to more caffeine while using a computer for school was actually linked to a lower likelihood of exceeding sugar guidelines.

Boys drank more sodas and energy drinks than girls, while girls reported greater use of electronic devices than boys.

Youth in Grade 8 consumed more sodas and energy drinks than those in Grade 10. The study found that more than 27 per cent of teens consumed more sugar than recommended while 21 per cent had more caffeine than recommended from soda and energy drinks. Males consumed more sodas and energy drinks than females.

Nevertheless, researchers say soda and energy drink intake has trended downwards between 2013 and 2016.

McMaster researchers teamed up with researchers from California State University in Fullerton, Calif., and published the work today in the journal PLOS ONE. According to McMaster University the study had no external funding.

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