Girls may be better than boys at withstanding the rigours of online gaming

Diane Guerrero get hands on with Xbox. Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Microsoft

The amount of hours spent in front of a screen has been linked to poorer teenage bone health but only in boys and not girls, according to a study in the medical journal BMJ Open.

The apparent lack of impact of leisure screen time on teen girls’ bone health may be explained by their different body fat distribution, say the researchers.

They base their findings on the Tromsø Fit Futures Study in Norway, which involved 961 of the region’s 15-17 year olds in 2010-11 and 688 (66%) of this original group two years later.

The teens were quizzed in detail about their lifestyles, including how much time they spent on their computers or watching TV/DVDs at the weekend and outside of school hours during the week.

The analyses showed that boys spent more time in front screens than girls, averaging around 5 hours a day at the weekend and just under 4 hours during the week. The equivalent figures for girls were 4 hours at weekends and just over 3 hours during the week.

Lower bone mineral density was linked to weekend screen time but was only significant among boys.

The researchers say: “Our study suggests persisting associations of screen based sedentary activities on bone health in adolescence. This detrimental association should therefore be regarded as of public health importance.”

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