Violence Linked to Obesity in Adolescents

A new study has recently emerged showing a correlation between the amount of violence adolescents see or participate in and their unhealthy eating habits. TV shows, movies, and video games that have a high level of violence have always been given a bad reputation, but now this new study may have proven that they can be unhealthy mentally, emotionally and physically all together.

In late 2017, scientists conducted a study where they analyzed eating habits and emotional/mental changes in adolescents who were exposed to a large amount of violence, and then compared them with those who were not. The study was not intended to gauge long-term effects but rather assess how violence influenced adolescents on a daily basis. The scientists hypothesized that large amounts of violence caused obesogenic behaviors in teenagers and often led to poor dietary choices. Also, such teenagers tended to have increased consumption of unhealthy beverages, loss of sleep and lack in any sort of physical activity.

The subjects in the study were 395 adolescents between the ages of twelve and fifteen years old, all from lower-income neighborhoods. Both the adolescents and their parents participated in the study. After an initial assessment via telephone, the participants were then sent an Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) three times a day for a total of thirty days. The total number of assessments was approximately 4329, from which the scientists were able to gather data. Body mass index (BMI) was taken of each of the participants at the beginning of the study and then eighteen months later at the end of it.

The study revealed that on those days when adolescents experienced more violence in any form, their dietary habits significantly declined, they lost sleep, and they were increasingly moody and lazy. During those same days, participants drank more carbonated and caffeinated beverages than they usually did. As a result, the adolescents experienced a tangible rise in their BMI in just thirty days. After monitoring the participants for 18 months – the full duration of the study – scientists found that their BMI had been affected by their high soda intake and poor eating choices.

The results of the study indicated that those adolescents who were exposed to more violence remained faithful to their bad eating habits; also, their sleep and mood were affected. The new findings bring to light more evidence proving that violence on the screen has a lot of detrimental effects on teenagers. The study also confirmed that too much time in front of the TV or on video games result in disruption of sleep hygiene, which in turn has a huge impact on adolescent health.