Teen screen time impacts sugar, caffeine intake, study says

Posted at 7:58 AM, Jan 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-16 11:49:27-05

Energy drinks and sodas, notoriously high in sugar and caffeine, are popular drinks among teenagers.

Now, a recent study looks at how teens’ screen habits might impact how many energy drinks and sodas they’re drinking.

The study looked at survey data from students in grades 8-10 across the U.S. from 2013 to 2016. Researchers found that while the total number of sodas and energy drinks consumed went down during this time period, when teens had more screen time – especially TV time – their consumption of these drinks went up.

“They found that for every hour the teens were on their screen, their risk increased by 32 percent of exceeding the recommended sugar limit, and exceeded the risk by 28 percent of the caffeine intake,” said Susan Albers, PsyD, of Cleveland Clinic, who did not take part in the study.

Experts recommend that teens consume less than 25 grams of added sugars each day. A 12 ounce can of soda can have as many as 40 grams of added sugar, and some energy drinks have up to 60-80 grams of added sugar.

Dr. Albers said increased screen time and sugar intake is problematic for teens, as it can wreak havoc on their sleep schedule.

And when their sleep schedule is out of whack – it impacts their mood, their appetite, and their ability function.

She recommends parents develop a plan to monitor their teens’ screen time, as well as what their children are eating and drinking. Even a small reduction in screen time can have positive health benefits.

“You don’t have to tell your teen to go ‘cold turkey’ on their screens,” said Dr. Albers. “But reducing their screen time by just one hour, can have huge benefits to their sleep patterns, to their weight, to their health, and to their mood. And if you start teaching teens these good, mindful, habits now, they’re more likely to have healthier habits around both their screen time and their eating habits into adulthood.”

Complete results of the study can be found in PLOS ONE.