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New study links excessive screen time with heart disease

Tuesday 29th May 2018
A new study has indicated that spending too much time looking at screens may be linked with a higher risk of heart disease.
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People who spend too much time watching TV or looking at computer screens may be elevating their own risk of developing heart disease.

This is according to a new study from the University of Glasgow, which revealed a strong association between discretionary screen time and adverse health outcomes, particularly among those with low fitness, low muscle strength or physical activity levels.

For this research, data on 390,089 participants from the UK Biobank was analysed to determine the impact of screen time on overall health. This represents the largest single study to focus on this area.

A link was established between spending a lot of time on screen-based activities and adverse health outcomes such as a higher risk of mortality, cardiovascular disease and cancer. This connection was almost twice as prevalent in those with low fitness levels or low grip strength.

The findings were shown to be independent of other potential influencing factors such as physical activity, grip strength, BMI, smoking, diet and socioeconomic status.

Study leader Professor Jason Gill said: "Our study shows that the risks associated with sedentary behaviour may not be the same for everyone, with the association between leisure-time screen use and adverse health outcomes being strongest in those with low levels of physical activity, fitness or strength.

"This has potential implications for public health guidance as, if the findings are causal, this data suggests that specifically targeting those with low fitness and strength to reduce their sedentary behaviour may be an effective approach."

This could mean that health promotion interventions aimed at reducing sedentary behaviours may have a significant positive impact on heart health. It also indicates that grip strength could function as a quick, simple and cheap screening tool for physical fitness.

Written by Mathew Horton

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