Phone, TV, social media use tied to more sugar and caffeine in teens

HAMILTON — A new study finds teens who spend more time watching TV, talking on mobile phones and using social media are more likely to drink sugared or caffeinated drinks than others.

McMaster University researchers examined 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 recommendations for sugar.

They were also at a 28 per cent increased risk of exceeding WHO recommendations for caffeine.

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.

The data involved material collected 2013 to 2016 by a national U.S. study called Monitoring the Future Survey.

McMaster researchers teamed up with researchers from California State University in Fullerton, Calif., and published the work Tuesday in the journal PLOS ONE.

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.

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.

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

Both sugar-sweetened and artificially sweetened drinks are linked to obesity, diabetes, dental cavities and poor sleep. Excess caffeine, as found in energy drinks, is associated with headaches, higher blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and chest pain as well as poor sleep.

The Canadian Paediatric Society discourages teens and kids from drinking sports or energy drinks.

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