New research shows one in three Queenslanders eat a meal in front of an electronic device every day, prompting an urgent health warning from Cancer Council Queensland.
Cancer Council’s Everyday Health Survey found more than half of all Queenslanders eat in front of a TV, computer, phone or tablet at least four times a week, and eight per cent for every meal.
Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said eating meals in front of electronic devices was more likely to cause mindless eating, harming a person’s short and long-term health.
“Mindless eating increases the risk of being overweight or obese, which leads to the development of a range of chronic diseases, including some cancers,” Ms Clift said.
“Queenslanders may be eating larger portions than necessary if they’re not paying attention to their food while sitting down to a meal.
“The health of our children is also at risk – kids need to learn from a young age to eat slowly, and recognise when they are becoming full to avoid overeating.
“The upward trend of electronic devices is leading Queenslanders to live more sedentary and less active lives, which is costly personally and to the Queensland health system.
“It may seem harmless to flick the TV on, scroll through social media or send an email over a meal a few times a week – but it could be harmful to your overall health.
“Our message is for all Queenslanders to cut down the screen time, sit down to dinner with family or friends, be aware of portion sizes, and enjoy and savour every meal.”
Two in three Queensland adults and one in four Queensland children are currently overweight or obese.
One in three Queensland kids average two or more hours of recreational screen time every day, exceeding the recommended guidelines.
“The state’s obesity crisis is driven by a range of factors, including sedentary lifestyles and excess consumption of energy-dense foods,” Ms Clift said.
“To reduce health risks, children under two should not spend any time watching TV or using electronic devices. Children aged two to five should limit electronic media to under one hour a day.
“Children aged five to 12 should break up sitting as much as possible, limit screen time to under two hours daily and exercise for at least 60 minutes every day for health benefits.”
Cancer Council’s Everyday Health Survey was conducted in February 2016, surveying the diet and lifestyle habits of 840 Queenslanders to improve community health and wellbeing.
More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available at cancerqld.org.au or 13 11 20.