Heavy Internet Use Linked To Weight Gain And High Blood Pressure In Teens

By May Wilkerson 10/16/15

But how much Internet use is too much?

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YouTube videos and Buzzfeed quizzes could be costing young people more than just time. Teens who spend hours online may be at a higher risk of high blood pressure and weight gain, a new study finds.

Researchers found that among 134 teens who use the Internet heavily, 26 had elevated blood pressure. Past studies have linked heavy internet use to other health risks like addiction, depression, anxiety, obesity, and social alienation, said researchers. This was the first study to find an association between Internet habits and high blood pressure.

In the study, researchers classified “heavy” Internet use as an average of 25 hours online a week. Of the 335 teens in the study, ages 14 to 17, 39% of the girls fell into this category and 43% of the boys. On average, the teens spent nearly 15 hours a week online, which included visiting websites, emailing, social media, playing online games, doing homework, downloading files, and maintaining websites.

"Using the Internet is part of our daily life but it shouldn't consume us,” said Andrea Cassidy-Bushrow, a researcher at Henry Ford's Department of Public Health Sciences.

She recommended that parents limit their children's use of the Internet to two hours a day, five days a week, to prevent health problems later on. According to the National Institutes of Health, treating blood pressure aggressively, early on, can curb the risk of heart disease and death in people above age 50.

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May Wilkerson is a writer, comic and Managing Editor @someecards. Co-host of the podcast Crazy; In Bed w/alyssalimp. She is also the top Google result for "insufferable lunatic." Follow this insufferable lunatic on Twitter.