More TV, Smartphone Time Means More Sugary Drinks for Teens

Henrietta Strickland
October 25, 2019

You would be hard pressed to find a teenager these days without a smartphone or tablet by their side at all hours of the day. A new study published in the journal PLOS ONE claims that teenagers spending more time on electronic gadgets are more likely to consume sugary, aerated and caffeinated drinks. Simultaneously, many adolescents are consuming far more than the recommended amounts of caffeine of sugar each and every day.

Overall, there was a decline in soda and energy drink consumption between 2013 and 2016, but greater use of electronic devices, particularly TV, was associated with higher consumption of both. They were able to come to their findings by using data from the Monitoring the Future Survey, which included responses from over 32,000 students in grades eight and 10.

Co-lead researcher Katherine Morrison, a McMaster professor of pediatrics, found more than 27 per cent of those surveyed exceeded recommended sugar intake and 21 per cent exceeded recommended caffeine from soda and energy drinks in 2016.

Too much caffeine, as found in energy drinks, can cause headaches, high blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, chest pain and poor sleep. "Addressing this through counseling or health promotion could potentially help".

Unchecked ingestion of caffeine and sugar may give rise to a number of health problems like obesity, diabetes, dental cavities and sleep deprivation.

They looked at US 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. Though TV time was found to be the biggest culprit of increased sugar and caffeine consumption, the researchers also found that time on laptops, phones, or social media also contributed to these unhealthy habits. The study also made the revelation that it was males who consumed more carbonated and energy drinks as compared to females. Boys tend to drink more caffeine than girls, and eighth graders drink more caffeine and sugar than tenth graders.

Surprisingly, playing video games, an activity often associated with staying up late and drinking caffeine in popular culture, was only marginally linked to increased caffeine consumption.

However, using a computer or other electronic device for school work was not linked to greater caffeine or sugar consumption.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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