Too much screen time raises kids’ blood pressure

Reuters / Marcelo del Pozo

Reuters / Marcelo del Pozo

Lack of physical activity and getting more than two hours of “screen time” significantly increases the risk of high blood pressure in children, according to the results of a recent study.

The claim was published in the February issue of the
International Journal of Cardiology and relies on the analysis of
data gathered on over 5,000 children from eight European
countries, examined by 15 researchers from Spain and Brazil.

They found a “worryingly high” incidence of high blood
pressure in children – 110 cases per 1,000, or double the
expected rate of five percent. Spending more than two hours a day
in front of a screen, whether watching television or playing
computer games, increased the probability of high blood pressure
by 30 percent. The article also noted that anything less than an
hour per day of physical activity increased the probability by 50

High blood pressure in childhood can lead to serious
cardiovascular problems later in life, including heart attacks
and strokes.

The researchers examined the data from a comprehensive study of
dietary and lifestyle influences on children’s health. The
IDEFICS study collected observational data on 16,224 children
from Spain, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Cyprus, Estonia, Sweden, and
Belgium over the course of two years.

According to lead researcher Augusto César Ferreira de Moraes of
the University of São Paulo in Brazil, the “screen time” analysis
focused on 5,221 children for whom all data was available, aged
between two and 10 at the start of the study. Of that number,
5,061 children were re-examined two years later.

The UK’s National Health Service noted and endorsed the study’s conclusions,
but cautioned that the data was based on parental estimates, and
therefore imprecise. The NHS urged further research into the
causal relationship between the sedentary habits of children and
cardiovascular conditions.

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