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Computer Use Tied to Lower Bone Mineral Density in Boys

Update Date: Apr 04, 2014 11:11 AM EDT
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Since technology has advanced significantly over the past years, children and adults are using media screens more often than before. In a new study, researchers set out to examine the effects of computer use on adolescents' bone mineral density. They found that young boys who had higher screen time also had worse bone mineral density at all body sites.

For this study, Norwegian researchers analyzed data on 463 girls and 484 boys from the Tromsø region of Norway. The children, who were between the ages of 15 and 18, had taken part in the Fit Futures study from 2010 to 2011. That study involved over 90 percent of all high school freshmen within the area. The data involved bone mineral density measurements at total hip, femoral neck and total body sites. Bone mineral density was recorded using a dual-energy Z-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Information about varying lifestyle factors, such as physical activity levels and screen time use, was collected via questionnaires and interviews.

The researchers found that boys generally spent more time in front of a screen than girls. The boys who had the highest screen times also had poorer body mineral density readings at all body sites. These boys also had higher body mass indexes (BMI), which measures obesity by calculating weight in relation to height.

"Bone mineral density is a strong predictor of future fracture risk. The findings for boys on the other hand clearly show that sedentary lifestyle during adolescence can impact on BMD 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," Lead author of the study Dr. Anne Winther, Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, stated reported by Medical Xpress.

For girls, the researchers found that those who spent four to six hours in front of a screen had higher body mineral densities than girls who spent less than 1.5 hours in front of a screen per day.

"Our findings for girls are intriguing and definitely merit further exploration in other studies and population groups," Dr. Winther said.

The study, "OC 49 Leisure time computer use and adolescent bone health: findings from the Tromsø study-Fit Futures," was presented at the World Congress on Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases.

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