More Time on Screens Means More Soda, Sports Drinks for Teens
By Shawn Radcliffec
- Overall, children and teens are drinking less soda and energy drinks. But those who spend more time looking at screens consume more sugar and caffeine.
- Drinking sugary or caffeinated beverages can increase the risk of obesity, diabetes, and other health issues.
- Researchers examined the habits of 32,000 students for the study.
- Overall, they found consumption of soda and energy drinks is down among teens.
Children and teens who spend more time watching TV or using electronic devices drink more soda and energy drinks, shows new research.
This increased consumption of sugar and caffeine puts young people at risk of obesity, diabetes, poor sleep and other health problems, say researchers.
In the study, researchers examined the responses of over 32,000 students in grades 8 and 10 to the Monitoring the Future survey for the years 2013 through 2016. The new studyTrusted Source was published October 22 in the journal PLoS ONE.
"Kids who are spending time in front of electronic devices are consuming more sugar-sweetened beverages and more caffeinated beverages than kids who are not focused on their screens," said Dr. David Fagan, vice chair of pediatrics at Cohen Children's Medical Center in New Hyde Park, New York, who was not involved in the research.
Screen Time Linked to Sugar and Caffeine Intake
Researchers found that in 2016, more than 27 percent of students obtained more than 10 percent of their calories from added sugars in soda or energy drinks. In addition, 21 percent of students exceeded the recommended caffeine intake due to these beverages alone.
Greater use of electronic devices — except computer use for school — was also linked to higher consumption of both sugar and caffeine.
Television had the biggest impact. For each additional hour per day of TV, students were 32 percent more likely to exceed the recommended sugar intake and 28 percent more likely to exceed the recommended caffeine take.
Mobile phone and social media use had similar, but smaller, effects on caffeine and sugar intake. Video gaming also had a smaller effect on sugar intake.
But to the researchers' surprise, video gaming had little impact on caffeine consumption.
"Given the marketing campaigns that target video gamers, we expected a particularly strong association between caffeine intake from energy drinks or sodas with video game use, but TV was linked more strongly," said study author Dr. Katherine Morrison, a professor of pediatrics from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, in a news release.
This finding also contrasts with earlier research showing that video gaming is linked to greater consumption of energy drinks by youth.
The researchers write that this may be because video gaming requires the use of one or both hands, which limits eating and drinking. Watching TV, though, can be a hands-free activity. Children and teens watching TV are also exposed to many ads for sodas and energy drinks.
Screen Time and Distracted Eating
Beverages like soda, energy drinks and juice can have a big impact on health because they provide easily-consumed calories.
"We have known for a while that for both adults and children, consumption of sugar containing and artificially sweetened beverages is associated with obesity and other adverse health outcomes, such as diabetes," said Dr. Beth Natt, director of pediatric hospital medicine at Connecticut Children's and a pediatric hospitalist at Danbury Hospital and Norwalk Hospital.
Some research shows that even artificially sweetened beverages are linked to some of the same chronic diseases tied to sugar intake, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
High intakes of caffeine — found in both sodas and energy drinks — can also have negative health effects, including difficulty sleeping, headaches, elevated blood pressure, chest pain, and other symptoms.
If you combine soda or energy drinks with screen time, you can get an even more powerful effect.
"It's this whole concept of distracted eating," said Fagan. "When you're involved with an electronic device — be it a TV, a video game, or a tablet — you really aren't paying attention or focusing on what foods or drinks you're putting in your mouth."
Although some parents might be happy getting rid of their child's electronic devices altogether, that's probably a tough sell.
"These devices are not going away. This is the way the world is in the 21st century," said Fagan. "But children and teens need to be mindful of what foods and drinks they're putting in their mouth while they're using these devices."
Natt recommends that when young people are on their screens, they consume a healthier option like water or unsweetened seltzer water.
Healthier Habits on the Rise?
There was some good news in the study. The researchers found that the average student intake of energy drinks and soda declined for both males and females during the study period.
Natt said this trend is "encouraging."
"Hopefully this is an indication that both adults and teens are getting the message about the importance of drinking healthy beverages to maintain a healthy body," said Natt, who was not involved in the study.
She also suggests that parents encourage their children to participate in regular physical activity to offset the sedentary screen time.
This fits with what Fagan calls the 5-2-1-0 rule for encouraging healthy habits in children:
- 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day
- 2 hours of screen time or less per day
- 1 hour or more of physical activity per day
- 0 sugar-sweetened beverages per day
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
A "trash tsunami" has washed ashore on the beaches of Honduras, endangering both wildlife and the local economy.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
More long-finned pilot whales were found stranded today on beaches in Tasmania, Australia. About 500 whales have become stranded, including at least 380 that have died, the AP reported. It is the largest mass stranding in Australia's recorded history.
- Annual Whale Slaughter Still a Tradition on the Faroe Islands ... ›
- Hundreds of Pilot Whales Die in Devastating Mass Stranding in New ... ›
- Green Group Tests Facebook With Ad Claiming Conservatives Back ... ›
- Illegal Wildlife Trade Thrives on Facebook, Internet Forums ... ›
- Facebook Loophole Allows Climate Deniers to Spread Misinformation ›
- Facebook Hires Koch-Funded Climate Deniers for 'Fact-Checking ... ›
By Harry Kretchmer
By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.
Sweden is a world leader in renewable energy consumption. Swedish Institute/World Bank
Naturally Warm<p>54% of Sweden's power comes from renewables, and is helped by its geography. With plenty of moving water and 63% forest cover, it's no surprise the <a href="https://sweden.se/nature/energy-use-in-sweden/#" target="_blank">two largest renewable power sources</a> are hydropower and biomass. And that biomass is helping support a local energy boom.</p><p>Heating is a key use of energy in a cold country like Sweden. In recent decades, as fuel oil taxes have increased, the country's power companies have turned to renewables, like biomass, to fuel local 'district heating' plants.</p><p>In Sweden these trace their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank">origins back to 1948</a>, when a power station's excess heat was first used to heat nearby buildings: steam is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/district-heating-system" target="_blank">forced along a network of pipes</a> to wherever it's needed. Today, there are around 500 district heating systems across the country, from major cities to small villages, providing heat to homes and businesses.</p><p>District heating used to be fueled mainly from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140" target="_blank">by-products of power plants</a>, waste-to-energy plants and industrial processes. These days, however, Sweden is bringing more renewable sources into the mix. And as a result of competition, this localized form of power is now the country's<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> home-heating market leader.</a></p>
Sweden is using smart grids to turn buildings into energy producers. Huang et al/Elsevier
Energy ‘Prosumers’<p>But Sweden doesn't stop at village-level heating solutions. Its new breed of energy-generation takes hyper-local to the next level.</p><p>One example is in the city of Ludivika where 1970s flats <a href="https://www.buildup.eu/sites/default/files/content/transforming-a-residential-building-cluster-into-electricity-prosumers-in-sweden.pdf" target="_blank">have recently been retrofitted with the latest smart energy technology</a>.</p><p>48 family apartments spread across 3 buildings have been given photovoltaic solar panels, thermal energy storage and heat pump systems. A micro energy grid connects it all, and helps charge electric cars overnight.</p><p>The result is a cluster of 'prosumer' buildings, producing rather than consuming enough power for 77% of residents' needs. With <a href="http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1232060/FULLTEXT01.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high levels of smart meter usage</a>, it's a model that looks set to spread across Sweden.</p>
<div id="d7bf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8757b138d5570bec9d6aad18074a429a"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273556364263071744" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Read more about Western Harbour and book a visit: https://t.co/ujSmVs9rNK 🏡🌳🌊 https://t.co/C5PuPziqIM</div> — Smart City Sweden (@Smart City Sweden)<a href="https://twitter.com/SmartCitySweden/statuses/1273556364263071744">1592474473.0</a></blockquote></div>
Scaling Up<p>A recent development by E.ON in Hyllie, a district on the outskirts of Malmö, southern Sweden, <a href="https://www.eonenergy.com/blog/2019/February/sweden-smart-city" target="_blank">has scaled up the smart grid principle</a>. Energy generation comes from local wind, solar, biomass and waste sources.</p><p>Smart grids then balance the power, react to the weather, deploying extra power when it's colder or putting excess into battery storage when it's warm. The system is not only more efficient, but bills have fallen.</p><p>Smart energy developments like those in Hyllie, Ludivika, and renewable-driven district heating, offer a radical alternative to the centralized energy systems many countries rely on today.</p><p>The EU's leaders have a challenge: how to generate 32% of energy from renewables by 2030. Sweden offers a vision of how technology and local solutions can turn a goal into a reality.</p>
- Sweden to Become One of World's First Fossil Fuel-Free Nation s ... ›
- These Countries Are Leading the Transition to Sustainable Energy ... ›
- Sweden Shuts Down Its Last Coal Plant Two Years Early - EcoWatch ›
By Jessica Corbett
In another win for climate campaigners, leaders of 12 major cities around the world — collectively home to about 36 million people — committed Tuesday to divesting from fossil fuel companies and investing in a green, just recovery from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
- Oxford Endowment Ditches Fossil Fuels in 'Historic' Decision ... ›
- Fossil Fuel Divestment Debates on Campus Spotlight Societal Role ... ›
- London and New York Mayors Call on Other World Cities to Divest ... ›