Teens and Screen Time, Sugar Consumption

Researchers from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario recently looked at the connection between teenagers spending time on screens (television, tablet, computer, or smartphone) and overconsumption of sugary or caffeinated drinks. For the study, which was published in the journal PLOS ONE, they looked at 32,418 American Students in eighth or tenth grade.

The recent data shows that overall consumption of caffeine among teenagers is actually trending down in recent years, but that teenagers who report using electronics frequently are drinking more energy drinks, soda, and coffee.

The study showed that over 27 percent of teens consumed more than the recommended amount of sugar and 21 percent drank too much caffeine. Boys seemed to drink more caffeine than girls. Further, an extra hour of television per day was linked to a 28 percent higher changes of exceeding the World Health Organization’s caffeine consumption recommendations, while each extra hour of social media was associated with an increased consumption of sugar. Video games were only marginally linked to caffeine consumption.

These drinks often contain sugar or artificial sweeteners, and are linked to greater risk of obesity, dental problems, and diabetes. Caffeine itself can lead to nausea, high blood pressure, and headaches.

Using screens for school work was not linked to greater consumption, however. The researchers suggest that informing teens of the danger of overconsumption and setting limits on sugary beverages and screen time could help to minimize risk.

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