Too much time in front of the TV may lead to poor blood sugar control in type 1 diabetics

Individuals with type 1 diabetes who spend more time in front of the TV or computer each day are likely to have poorer blood sugar control than those who have less screen time, according to a new study.

The researchers said their study, which was published in the journal Diabetes Care, was not able to determine the cause of this association. Conventional risk factors for poor blood sugar regulation like lack of physical activity and obesity did not explain the higher blood sugar levels in diabetic children.

For the study, researchers from Charite-Universitatsmedizin Berlin in Germany analyzed the HbA1c test scores of nearly 300 adolescents and young adults with type 1 diabetes. The test measures long-term blood sugar control in terms of percentage of glucose in the blood.

The results showed that those who spent more than four hours per day in front of the television or computer had scores of 9.3 percent. Comparatively, those who had less daily screen time had scores of 8.5 percent.

The researchers told Reuters that the association persisted even after controlling for factors like obesity and physical activity, which indicates that there is more to the connection than is immediately apparent. They speculated that spending more time in front of the TV may cause individuals to overindulge on snacks, which may lead to high blood sugar levels.

Regardless of the cause, they said the study confirms that lifestyle is an important, modifiable risk factor. In particular, parents of children with type 1 diabetes may want to encourage more physically active entertainment options to help their children establish healthy lifestyles at an early point. This may reduce their risk of disease-related complications later in life.