TV-time link to weak bones
SCREEN time may be doing more harm to children than previously thought, after researchers at Curtin University found idle children had weaker and poorer bones in young adulthood than their active counterparts.
A study of 1181 young adults over their childhood and adolescence found that by age 20, those who had heavy viewing habits had weaker bones.
Lead researcher Joanne McVeigh said the more than 40 per cent of study participants that watched more than 14 hours of television a week, from ages five to 17, had between 3 and 7 per cent less bone mass at age 20 compared to those who watched less television.
“This relationship remained even after we considered physical activity, calcium intake, Vitamin D status and smoking, which are all known contributors to bone health,” Dr McVeigh said.
The research further suggested less TV watching was also likely to offset other negative impacts, such as obesity, as more time can be spent being physically active.
“Previous research has found TV watching has been linked with poorer food choices and drinking too many sugar sweetened beverages, which is not good for bone health,” Dr McVeigh said.
“It is clearly important that children should develop good TV viewing habits as our study demonstrates that this sets them up for good bone health in later life.
“We would encourage a reduction in TV watching time and other screen time and promote activities which encourage people to be physically active and build the strongest bones possible by young adulthood.”
Previous research has demonstrated the poorer the bone health in young adulthood, the greater the risk for osteoporotic fracture in later life. Fractures are associated with significant morbidity, mortality, loss of independence and financial burden.
“Around one in five people aged 65 and over will die within a year of fracturing their hip, so poor bone health is very dangerous in later life,” Dr McVeigh said.
“Given we start to lose bone around the age of 30, young adulthood is a really important time to make sure our bones are as strong as possible to offset later loss.”
Too much TV leads to weak bones.