Addicted to your Phone? You Might be at Increased Risk of Obesity

Addicted to your Phone? You Might be at Increased Risk of Obesity

Phones and nearly pandemic levels of obesity might not seem to be linked at first blush.

Other than sharing their respective rises at nearly the same time in history...

Wait a second, now that is interesting. Researchers at Rice university thought it was interesting too, and have published a study examining those links and more.

The research was conducted in two parts:

In the first study, 132 participants between the age of 18 and 23 completed a survey regarding the degree to which they multitask multimedia, and their distractibility. They used the Multimedia Multitasking-Revised (MMT-R) scale. 

The MMT-R measures proactive and compulsive phone behaviors such as having to check it first thing in the morning or having to check social media while speaking with others.

In general, the researchers found that higher scores on the MMT-R scale were correlated with higher BMI and body fat percentage.

"Increased exposure to phones, tablets and other portable devices has been one of the most significant changes to our environments in the past few decades, and this occurred during a period in which obesity rates also climbed in many places." -Richard Lopez, lead author

In the second portion of the study, 72 of the 132 preview participants were given an fMRI scan while looking a series of images. Mixed in the images were pictures of enticing but "fattening" foods. When people who scored high on the MMT-R saw pictures of the unhealthy foods, they showed significant increase in brain activity in the area of the brain that deals with food temptation.

While these results are preliminary, they do suggest those that have an issue with their phones and multi-tasking are more susceptible to obesity. Getting control of this part of your life won't necessarily make you lose weight, but it will show a degree of control over your brain which is driving behaviors which can be detrimental to your health.

It is not right to say that our phones are making us fat, but these results suggest our phones indicate an issue in the brain that manifests in behavior that does.

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