Binge watching web series, playing video games for hours and using other social media platforms round-the-clock has led to an irregular pattern of multitasking in individuals these days.
The study conducted combinedly by the Rice University, Dartmouth College and The Ohio State University in USA revealed that people who switch between forms of digital media are more likely to be overweight and have poorer self-control. The study studied the links between obesity and the overuse of digital devices and found that individuals who have tend to be more multitasking on digital devices had higher body mass indexes and more body fat than those who used digital devices less and had low multitasking behaviour.
In another section of the study, the MRI scans of the participants were taken, and their brain activity was recorded. The scans revealed that people with high media multitasking habits showed increased activity in the brain when shown pictures of unhealthy foods. The brain activity was higher in the parts of the brain that was responsible for addiction and habit-forming behaviour. Doctors say that people tend to overeat while using digital devices as they binge on these digital devices during mealtime.
“Overeating due to the use of digital devices began when families started binging on television during mealtime. This habit has played a significant role in increasing obesity among adults and children alike. The arrival of smartphones and laptops has further worsened the situation making distracted eating and subsequent over consumption of food a regular practice. Not chewing food and eating without engaging ones five senses further affects our nutrition,” says Dr Prashant Kumar Dash, director of Medical Services at Midlife.
“Families must create strict codes of conduct on the dinner table and avoid using smartphones while eating. This will encourage meaningful conversations, lead to greater emotional and physical well-being and prevent obesity and other health issues,” added Dr Prashant.
Binging can affect the digestive patterns and is known to cause obesity. People using multiple digital devices tend to have meals at irregular times and irregular sleep cycles, both of which is related to obesity. “The anticipation of the food in the body and digestion process is disturbed when eating while using digital devices. The people do not look at the volume of the food while they are using digital devices and they tend to overeat. Overeating leads to a disturbance in the digestive pattern,” said Dr Radhakrishna P, senior consultant, surgical gastroenterology, SIMS Hospital.
It is inevitable in the present fast paced world but media multitasking where in the individual engages with multiple digital devices at the same time results in difficulty in sustaining attention and problems in working memory, say psychologists. “It can make an individual vulnerable to indulge in temptations towards food and lack of control over its intake. Even though research shows an association between media multitasking and obesity but there’s no conclusive evidence to suggest it as a causality,” said Dr Vivian Kapil, psychiatrist, Sri Ramachandra Medical Centre.