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By Robert Preidt
HealthDay reporter

WEDNESDAY, March 3, 2021 (HealthDay News) – Could endless hours of scrolling social media and watching TV trigger a binge eating among tweens?

Apparently, new research suggests so.

“Children may be more prone to overeating when they are distracted in front of screens. They may also be exposed to more food advertisements on television, ”said study author Dr. Jason Nagata. He is an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of California at San Francisco.

“Binge watching television can lead to binge eating behaviors due to overconsumption and loss of control,” he said in a college press release.

For the study, the researchers analyzed data collected from more than 11,000 American children, ages 9 to 10, that included time spent on six different types of media, including television, social media, and texting.

Parents also received information about their children’s excessive eating behaviors.

Each additional hour children spent on social media was associated with a 62% higher risk of binge eating disorder a year later, and each additional hour spent watching or streaming TV or movies was associated with a 39% higher risk of binge eating disorder. one year later. But the study couldn’t prove that using social media actually caused a binge eating.

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The percentage of children with binge eating disorder fell from 0.7% at the start of the study to 1.1% a year later, a rate that is expected to increase in late adolescence and early childhood. adulthood, the study authors noted.

People with binge eating disorder eat large amounts of food in a short period of time. They feel a loss of control during the binge and shame or guilt afterwards.

Binge eating is the most common eating disorder in the United States and can be serious or life-threatening if it causes diabetes or heart disease.

According to the lead author of the study, Kyle Ganson, “This study highlights the need for more research on the impact of screen time on the well-being of young people today and in the future.” . Ganson is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Toronto.

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“Exposure to social media and unattainable bodily ideals can lead to negative body image and subsequent binge eating,” he noted.

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The study was published on March 1 in the International Journal of Eating Disorders.

Nagata suggested that while “screen time can have important benefits such as education and socialization during the pandemic, parents should try to mitigate the risks of excessive screen time, such as binge-eating. food. Parents should regularly talk to their children about the use of screen time and develop a family media use plan. ”

More information

The US National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more information on binge eating disorder.

SOURCE: University of California, San Francisco, press release, March 1, 2021

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