Teenage boys cooped up in their bedrooms playing computer games have weaker bones than those who enjoy the outdoors, researchers have warned, Daily Mail reports.
Boys who spend more time on the computer, game console or in front of the TV have lower bone mineral density than girls or than boys who enjoy the outdoors.
It means that in later life they face an increased risk of fractures and osteoporosis. Skeletons grow continuously from birth to the end of the teenage years reaching peak bone mass – maximum strength and size – in early adulthood. Along with nutritional factors, physical activity can greatly impact on this process.
But the Norwegian study backed up growing concerns that sedentary lifestyles in teenagers impact bone health and obesity rates.
The study explored the hypothesis that greater computer use at weekends is associated with lower bone density and examined 463 girls and 484 boys aged 15 to18 years in the Tromsø region of Norway.
The students participated in the Fit Futures study from 2010-2011, which assessed more than 90 per cent of all first year high school students in the region.
Bone density was measured by DXA (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) while their lifestyles were determined through questionnaires and interviews.
Not surprisingly, the researchers found that boys spent more time in front of computers than girls.
As well as high screen time being adversely associated with bone density, in boys screen time was also positively related to higher body mass index (BMI).
In contrast to the boys, girls who spent four to six hours in front of the computer, had higher bone density than counterparts who spent less than 1.5 hours in front of a screen each day.
Dr Anne Winther of the Arctic University of Norway said, “Bone mineral density is a strong predictor of future fracture risk. Our findings for girls are intriguing and definitely merit further exploration in other studies and population groups. The findings for boys, on the other hand, clearly show that sedentary lifestyles during adolescence can impact on (bone density) and thus compromise the acquisition of peak bone mass. This can have a negative impact in terms of osteoporosis and fracture risk later in life.”
According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF), approximately one in five men over the age of 50 worldwide will suffer a fracture as a result of osteoporosis.
Very low levels of awareness about osteoporosis risk and bone health in men has prompted the IOF to focus on osteoporosis in men as a key World Osteoporosis Day theme in 2014. The study was presented at the World Congress on Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases.
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