A new study from the US has found a new possible risk linked to more screen time among children. Many past studies as well have documented the risks of excessive screen time. The new study has shown that children in the age range of 9 to 11 years in the US, who are indulged in excessive screen time, might develop binge eating disorder (BED) one year later. Experts have said that social media is the main culprit for children’s surplus screen time. The study has noted that each one hour spent on social media is linked to a 62 percent greater risk of binge eating disorder after a year. At the same time, each hour spent watching television or a movie is linked to a 39 percent increased risk of binge eating disorder. The lead author of the study and an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of California San Francisco, Jason Nagata has said that kids might be more susceptible to overeating while being distracted in front of TV or Cellphone screens. Experts have said that binge eating disorder is described by recurring and short-term episodes of high food intake. This disorder is often escorted by a feeling of loss of control. People who are dealing with binge eating disorder start feeling a sense of misery and guilt after binge eating.
Experts have said that BED is the most frequent eating disorder that exists in the US. It impacts people both who are overweight and average weight. Most often, it starts in the late teens or early 20s, said the experts. However, some regular screen-linked past times can be diagnosed earlier. Dr. Jason Nagata has said that binge TV watching might result in binge eating manners due to excess intake of food and loss of control. Overeating linked with high usage of social media can incite negative body image in children that can trigger the conditions for binge eating. Dr. Natalie D. Muth, the chairperson of the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Obesity has said that while past studies have looked at links between screen time and mindless overeating, the new study has focused solely on binge eating. She has said that the findings of the study show a link between binge eating and excess screen time, they do not show causation. Dr. Natalie D. Muth has said that the outcomes of the study have not been able to show whether more screen time can lead to binging. As per the expert, depression, and boredom might be the factors, which cause more screen time and binge eating. Experts, who have been involved in the study, have said that the COVID19 pandemic has not only made life difficult for people who have been dealing with eating disorders but it has also shot up screen time for adults and children. Muth has said that due to the COVID19 pandemic and stay home order and lockdowns inflicted by the pandemic, children have started spending more time on screens for school and entertainment. The pandemic has created a huge void in the extracurriculars of the children.
Dr. Natalie D. Muth has said that the American Academy of Pediatrics has reported an increase in the cases of obesity and eating disorders since the COVID19 pandemic has started. It has shot up concerns about post-pandemic effects. Experts have assured that as the pandemic ends, they are going to deal with the mental health fallout, which has taken place among children and adults. They are going to focus on screen time addictive behaviors and eating disorder, which includes binging as well. Health experts have said that online schooling during the pandemic might have encouraged prolonged screen-based behaviors. However, parents can plan children’s screen time to minimize the risk, said the experts. Experts have said that parents should schedule children’s snack time and meals with restricted screen distractions to avoid these disorders. Dr. Natalie D. Muth has said that parents should strongly discourage eating while spending time watching television or on cellphones. Health experts have said that children should sleep properly as excessive eating behaviors tend to happen in the evening. There should be no screen time within an hour of going to bed, said the experts. They have said that parents should not allow cellphones in children’s rooms. Dr. Natalie D. Muth has said that if parents feel that their children are undergoing an eating disorder, which is out of control, they should seek help from a professional. This study has been done before the COVID19 pandemic has struck the country, therefore there is a need for further research to validate the findings of this study, said the experts.