More screen time associated with poorer glucose regulation in type 1 diabetics

Type 1 diabetics who get more screen time each day may have poorer blood sugar regulation than those who spend less time in front of the TV and computer, according to a new study from a team of German researchers.

The findings have important implications for glucose management among individuals with type 1 diabetes. Due in part to the growing use of mobile devices and historically low rates of physical activity among the general public, people are spending more time than ever in front of their TVs and computers.

For the study, researchers from Charite-Universitatsmedizin Berlin in Germany administered HbA1c tests to 296 children, adolescents and young adults with type 1 diabetes. The team reported in the journal Diabetes Care that individuals who spent more than four hours per day in front of the TV or computer screen had average scores of 9.3 percent, compared to 8.5 percent in those who had less screen time.

What was interesting about the results was that traditional risk factors for poor blood sugar control like obesity and lack of physical activity did not explain the lack of glucose regulation in type 1 diabetics who had more daily screen time. However, other factors like diabetes duration and socioeconomic status were associated with poor disease management.

The researchers told Reuters that their results could not fully explain why spending more time in front of the TV was associated with poor glucose regulation. They suggested that one possible explanation may be that individuals who watch a lot of TV or are on their computer for extended periods may do more snacking on unhealthy foods than individuals who have more active leisure activities. Further investigation may be needed to explain the phenomenon.

Regardless of the cause, they told the news source that their findings point to an easy thing individuals with type 1 diabetes can do to improve their blood sugar regulation and limit their risk of developing health complications. Simply spending less time in front of the TV or computer may be one of the best things these individuals can do for their health.