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Screen Time Tied to Binge Eating in Preteens

WEDNESDAY, March 10, 2021 -- Preteens who have more screen time are more likely to develop binge-eating disorder one year later, according to a study published online March 1 in the International Journal of Eating Disorders.

Jason M. Nagata, M.D., from the University of California San Francisco, and colleagues used data from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study (11,025 children ages 9 to 10 years) to assess the association between contemporary screen-time modalities and binge-eating disorder.

The researchers found that each additional hour of total screen time per day was prospectively associated with higher odds of binge-eating disorder at one-year follow-up (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 1.11). Specifically, binge-eating disorder was associated with each additional hour of social networking (aOR, 1.62), texting (aOR, 1.40), and watching or streaming television shows or movies (aOR, 1.39).

"With remote learning, the cancellation of youth sports, and social isolation, children are currently exposed to unprecedented levels of screen time," Nagata said in a statement. "Although screen time can have important benefits such as education and socialization during the pandemic, parents should try to mitigate risks from excessive screen time such as binge eating. Parents should regularly talk to their children about screen-time usage and develop a family media use plan."

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