Article Text

Screen time is associated with adiposity and insulin resistance in children
  1. Claire M Nightingale1,
  2. Alicja R Rudnicka1,
  3. Angela S Donin1,
  4. Naveed Sattar2,
  5. Derek G Cook1,
  6. Peter H Whincup1,
  7. Christopher G Owen1
  1. 1 Population Health Research Institute, St George's, University of London, London, UK
  2. 2 Institute of Cardiovascular & Medical Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Claire M Nightingale, Population Health Research Institute, St. George's, University of London, London SW17 0RE, UK; cnightin{at}


Background Higher screen time is associated with type 2 diabetes (T2D) risk in adults, but the association with T2D risk markers in children is unclear. We examined associations between self-reported screen time and T2D risk markers in children.

Methods Survey of 4495 children aged 9–10 years who had fasting cardiometabolic risk marker assessments, anthropometry measurements and reported daily screen time; objective physical activity was measured in a subset of 2031 children.

Results Compared with an hour or less screen time daily, those reporting screen time over 3 hours had higher ponderal index (1.9%, 95% CI 0.5% to 3.4%), skinfold thickness (4.5%, 0.2% to 8.8%), fat mass index (3.3%, 0.0% to 6.7%), leptin (9.2%, 1.1% to 18.0%) and insulin resistance (10.5%, 4.9% to 16.4%); associations with glucose, HbA1c, physical activity and cardiovascular risk markers were weak or absent. Associations with insulin resistance remained after adjustment for adiposity, socioeconomic markers and physical activity.

Conclusions Strong graded associations between screen time, adiposity and insulin resistance suggest that reducing screen time could facilitate early T2D prevention. While these observations are of considerable public health interest, evidence from randomised controlled trials is needed to suggest causality.

  • Childhood
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Adiposity

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  • Contributors All authors contributed substantially to the conception and design of this paper. PHW conceived, raised funding for and directed the CHASE study with help from DGC. All authors contributed to the collection of data used in this paper. CMN and ARR carried out the statistical analyses. CMN drafted the paper, which was critically appraised by all authors for intellectual content. All authors approved the final version to be published and agree to be accountable for all aspects of the manuscript.

  • Funding Diabetes prevention research at St George's, University of London is supported by the National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) South London (CLAHRC-2013-10022). Data collection was supported by grants from the Wellcome Trust (068362/Z/02/Z), the British Heart Foundation (PG/06/003) and by the National Prevention Research Initiative (NPRI). The Funding Partners for this NPRI award were: British Heart Foundation; Cancer Research UK; Department of Health; Diabetes UK; Economic and Social Research Council; Medical Research Council; Research and Development Office for the Northern Ireland Health and Social Services; Chief Scientist Office, Scottish Executive Health Department and Welsh Assembly Government.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Parental/guardian consent obtained.

  • Ethics approval Multicentre Research Ethics Committee, Wales, UK.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement Enquiries about use of the study dataset can be made by contacting Professor Peter Whincup, St George's, University of London, UK.

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