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Can screen time affect diet and health?

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According to a survey conducted by researchers at Arizona State University, staring at digital screens for lengthy periods can result in poor health choices.

Published in BMC Public Health, the study examined whether extended use of a variety of screen-based devices, in addition to television, was associated with poor dietary habits and other health-related characteristics. The recent phenomenon of binge-watching was also explored.

A survey to assess screen time across multiple devices, dietary habits, sleep duration and quality, perceived stress, self-rated health, physical activity and body mass index, was administered to a sample of US adults.

Aggregate screen time across all devices totaled 17.5 hours per day for heavy users, who reported the least healthful dietary patterns and the poorest health-related characteristics – including self-rated health – compared to moderate and light users.

Moreover, unique dietary habits emerged when examining dietary patterns by type of screen separately, such that heavy users of TV and smartphone displayed the least healthful dietary patterns compared to heavy users of TV-connected devices, laptop, and tablet. Binge-watching was also significantly associated with less healthy dietary patterns, including frequency of fast-food consumption, as well as eating family meals in front of a television, and perceived stress.

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