Are Twitter and Facebook Making You Fat?

Study finds that we are spending too much time on social media and not enough hours in the gym. 

Posted: 09/17/2012 06:13 PM EDT

How much time do you spend updating your Facebook status or checking in to see what Kanye West is tweeting? If it’s a lot, know this: A new study suggests that the more time we spend online instead of being outside and active, the more likely we are to gain weight.

 

Researchers from the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland surveyed 350 students about the amount of time they spend online and workout. According to HealthDay, they found that:

 

— Most students used social networking sites for an average of one hour each day, and slightly more than half of the students rated themselves as "moderately active." One-third of the participants said they were "highly active" and 12.7 percent reported "low physical activity."

— Of the students involved in the study, 25 percent said they participated in team sports.

— After examining the information collected, however, the researchers found that time spent on social networking sites cut into time they spent exercising or being physically active. The study also found people who were fans of Facebook were less likely to play team sports.

 

So why does this matter to us?

 

African-Americans bear the brunt of the obesity epidemic in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and 22.4 percent of African-American children ages 6 to 17 are obese. In terms of adults, according to the Office of Minority Health, African-American women have the highest obesity rates in the country — a whopping 50 percent are obese. And 37 percent of Black men over the age of 20 are obese.

 

Past studies have shown that African-American youth consume more media — television, Internet and video games — than any other race and ethnicity. Black teens on average spend four more hours watching media every day than white children, according to a 2011 study conducted at Northwestern University.

 

And while social media can’t be solely blamed for the obesity epidemic, I know that all the time I spend online could be better used in a Zumba class.

 

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(Photo: Nick Pandolfo/MCT /LANDOV)

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