The 3 top reasons social media can affect overweight in teens
Teenagers spend a significant amount of time on social media, mostly on their phones, scrolling through their newsfeeds. Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Tik-Tok have become a go-to source of entertainment for teens. From staying connected with family and friends to being informed about the latest news, social media is now without doubt an essential communication tool among people of all ages. However, several studies have shown that excessive social media use has a profound effect on teens’ risk for overweight. I am going to present one of them here:
In May 2022, a study was published in the Journal of Pediatric Obesity that analyzed the social media use of 10,798 14-year-old boys and girls in the UK. The study used data from the Millennium Cohort Study, a large cohort study of British children that began in 2000.
The study examined the participants' Body Mass Index (BMI) ie a tool to measure the amount of overweight and how much time they spent on social media.
If you want to learn more about what BMI is and how to figure out how much weight your teen needs to lose to be in a healthy weight, listen to episode 1 of my podcast: www.lifestyleforteens.com/1
The researchers asked the teenagers to self-report their social media use on various applications such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok. The response data was categorized into four groups: zero to less than one hour, one hour to less than three hours, three hours to less than five hours, and five or more hours.
The results of the study showed that there was no strong association between social media use and BMI in boys. However, there was an association in girls who spent five or more hours per day on social media. The researchers felt this discrepancy between boys and girls could probably be because girls use social media to connect with friends more than boys, who tend to connect also with other ways with their friends, such as playing video games.
The researchers also explored several other factors that could have contributed to this connection between social media use and BMI. These factors included total sleep duration, depressive symptoms, body weight satisfaction, and overall well-being. When these factors were considered, the researchers found that the connection between social media use and BMI was reduced, which indicates ways by which social media use can influence an unhealthy weight.
If you want to learn more details about this study, you can listen to Lifestyle and Weight Loss For Teens podcast, episode 18 here
Three top reasons social media can promote overweight in teens
- Social media can have a significant influence on the food choices of teenagers. Junk food and fast food adverts frequently pop up on social media platforms, encouraging unhealthy eating habits among teenagers. Most teens can be easily influenced by what they see on social media, including those that promote unhealthy and sedentary lifestyles.
- Teens' addiction to social media has also resulted in less physical activity, something which is necessary for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Most teens now prefer to spend their free time in their room rather than engaging in physical activities like sports or outdoor games. This sedentary lifestyle, arising from social media addiction, can contribute in teens being overweight.
- Another consequence of social media on teenagers is sleep deprivation, because often they are on social media platforms until late at night, which further exacerbates the overweight problem. Lack of a good night’s sleep can result in weight gain and other related health issues. If you want to learn more about how poor sleep contributes to weight gain in teens, you can listen here.
Take home message
In conclusion, social media has a tremendous impact on teenagers, and the relationship between social media and overweight is very concerning. Parents, educators and health professionals must continuously speak about the need to maintain a healthy balance between social media use and physical activity. Parents should encourage their children to participate in physical activities, limit their time on social media, and promote healthy eating habits.
By the way, if you are looking for easy and healthy recipes for teens that are high in protein and can be ready in less than 30 minutes, here is a collection of 30 recipes I put together, which you can crab for free.
Also, if you would like to learn more about my group coaching program (LIFT Program) for teens who struggle with their weight, here is the info: What is the LIFT program
And if you are interested to join the waiting list for the LIFT Program (no commitment), click here: join waiting list
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