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How the smartphone can lead to obesity
Everyone knows this very well, and every free minute they use a cell phone or tablet. The latest news is read, surfed through social media platforms or simply chatted. A research team from Rice University in Texas, Texas, has recently shown in their current study that senseless switching between digital devices is associated with an increased susceptibility to food temptations and a lack of self-control, which can lead to weight gain.
“Increased exposure to phones, tablets and other portable devices has been one of the most significant changes in our environment in recent decades. This happened at a time when obesity rates were also rising in many places, ”said Richard Lopez, lead author of the study. "So we wanted to do this research to determine if there were links between obesity and digital device abuse."
Carrying out the study
The study was divided into two parts. In the first part, 132 participants between the ages of 18 and 23 completed a questionnaire assessing multitasking and media distraction.
This was done using a newly developed 18-fold media multitasking-revised scale (MMT-R). The MMT-R scale measures proactive behavior of compulsive or inappropriate smartphone use - for example, if you feel the urge to check your phone for messages while talking to someone - and more passive behavior, such as media-related distractions.
The researchers found that higher MMT-R values are associated with a higher body mass index (BMI) and a higher percentage of body fat, which suggests a possible link.
In the second part of the study, 72 participants from the first part were subjected to an fMRI scan, in which the scientists measured brain activity while the test subjects were shown a series of images. Mixed with a variety of photos that were not related, pictures of appetizing but fatty foods were taken.
When the participants saw pictures of food, the researchers observed increased activity in the brain area, which deals with the temptation of food. The same subjects, who also had a higher BMI and more body fat, spent more time in the campus cafeterias.
Overall, Lopez said these results are preliminary, but suggest that there is indeed a link between media multitasking, obesity risk, brain-based self-control measures, and exposure to real food. The scientists recently published these results in a press release from Rice University.
"With increasing obesity rates and the proliferation of multimedia in large parts of the modern world, it is important to make such connections," the study leader said of the results.
Lopez and his research team hope that the study will be sensitized and that future work on this topic will be promoted. The results of the study were published in the upcoming print editions of the English language magazines Brain Imaging and Behavior. (fm)