Using your smartphone five or more times a day may increase obesity risk

Excessive smartphone usage, often linked to impulsivity, might increase the risk of obesity and heart diease, researchers suggest.

The findings, provided and released by the American College of Cardiology, provide a comprehensive look at sedentary behaviors associated with excessive smartphone usage, based on a study by a team of researchers at the Simón Bolívar University in Barranquilla, Colombia.

“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,” said Mirary Mantilla-Morrón of the Health Sciences Faculty at the Simón Bolívar University.

“It is important that the general population know and be aware that, although mobile technology is undoubtedly attractive for its multiple purposes, portability, comfort, access to countless services, information and entertainment sources, it should also be used to improve habits and healthy behaviors.”

For the study, the team investigated 700 male and 360 female participants, ranging between 19 and 20 years of age, all students at the Simón Bolívar University.

Researchers noted that male participants were 36.1 percent likely to be overweight and 42.6 percent likely to classify as obese. Among female participants, they were 63.9 percent likely to be overweight and 57.4 percent likely to classify as obese. If smartphone usage exceeded five or more hours a day, the study indicated that the risk of obesity would rise to 43 percent, due to an increase in unhealthy food intake.

“We have also determined that the amount of time in which a person is exposed to the use of technologies – specifically prolonged cell phone use – is associated with the development of obesity,” said Mantilla-Morrón. “The results of this study allow us to highlight one of the main causes of physical obesity, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.”

The findings were presented at the ACC Latin America Conference 2019.