Posted on Mar 03, 2014, 6 a.m.
People who own televisions, computers, and cars appear to be at higher risk for obesity and diabetes, among residents of developing countries.
Televisions, computers, and cars are rapidly becoming more available in developing countries. As a consequence, an international study involving 17 countries reports that the spread of obesity and type-2 diabetes could become epidemic. Scott Lear, from Simon Fraser University (Canada), and colleagues analyzed data collected on 153,996 adults residing in high, upper-middle, lower-middle and low income countries. Questioning participants about ownership of modern-day devices, as well as physical activity and diet, the researchers observed a 400% increase in obesity and a 250% increase in diabetes, among residents in low-income countries who owned televisions, computers, and cars. Further, the study also showed that owning all three devices was associated with a 31% decrease in physical activity, 21% increase in sitting and a increase in waist size, as compared with those who owned no devices. Interestingly, the team found no association in high-income countries, suggesting that the effects of owning items linked to sedimentary lifestyles has already occurred, and is reflected in current high rates of these conditions. The study authors warn that: “The ownership of household devices increased the likelihood of obesity and diabetes, and this was mediated in part by effects on physical activity, sitting time and dietary energy intake. With increasing ownership of household devices in developing countries, societal interventions are needed to mitigate their effects on poor health.”
Lear SA, Teo K, Gasevic D, Zhang X, Poirier PP, Rangarajan S, et al. “The association between ownership of common household devices and obesity and diabetes in high, middle and low income countries.” CMAJ. 2014 Feb 10.