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Could cell phones be making your child fat?

AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit

That’s what one study recently published by the American Medical Association suggests.

The study sought to find an association between screen-based media device usage in the bedroom before bedtime and inadequate sleep quality and quantity, and found that children who used smartphones or tablets in their sleep environment had more sleep problems than children who did not use smartphones or tablets in the bedroom before bedtime.

Although the study did not directly measure weight or nutritional habits, it did explain that children who have poor sleep habits are at a much greater risk for poor diet, obesity, sedentary lifestyle and type 2 diabetes.

But some doctors are drawing the simpler conclusion: kids who are using screen-based media are missing out on exercise.

Dr. Michael Zollicoffer from Sinai Hospital in Baltimore told WJZ-TV, “I don’t think just sitting there holding your text device is going to make you a diabetic, I don’t care what the study states, the study should state that also none of those people are walking.”

The screen-based media devices can affect children and teenagers for up to three hours due to blue light emissions, according to Harvard University.

These emissions interfere with a person’s circadian rhythm and melatonin levels, and trick the body into thinking it is daytime.

For their part, cell phone manufacturers are responding to this research by attempting to reduce the effect of "blue light" on human sleep. For instance, Apple announced as part of their iOS 9.3 upgrade this year a new feature called "Night Shift," which supposedly reduces blue light emissions when active, and other phone makers have similar features or have announced development of more "night friendly" modes.

No studies have been performed to verify that these modes will help users get the sleep they need, however.

One last thing…
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