Obesity Research | ENDO 2022 Annual Conference
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Obesity Press Conference Examines Cell Phone Addiction and Metabolic Health

June 12, 2022

Sunday’s ENDO 2022 news conference on obesity research covered two studies, one on the effects of cell phone addiction on adverse metabolic health outcomes, and another on childhood obesity and infertility. Below are summaries of the research findings:

Moderation May Disrupt Addictive Nature of Mobile Devices and Adverse Health Outcomes

Encouraging moderation, balance and real-life engagement coupled with education may combat the overuse of wireless mobile devices and subsequent adverse health outcomes.

Nidhi Gupta, M.D., founder of KAP Pediatric Endocrinology in Franklin, Tenn., aimed to review existing data on the neuroscience underlying wireless mobile device addiction, and understand how increased screen time or a sedentary lifestyle can increase the prevalence of obesity, dyslipidemia, prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.

In a previous article, published in the American Journal of Medicine in February 2022, Gupta concluded that wireless mobile devices such as cell phones and tablets are often a source of distraction, errors, procrastination and inefficiency in health care settings, which can lead to an increased risk of burnout. For this study, Gupta investigated how this might impact the greater population.

“As a pediatric endocrinologist, the trend in smartphone-associated health disorders (obesity, sleep and behavior issues) worries me. I often get asked by my patients, ‘What can we do about the screen time?’ A simple but loaded question. It opens multiple avenues to educate and inspire my patients and their families,” Gupta said.

Gupta completed a comprehensive literature search using the terms, “smartphone,” “screentime,” and “phone addiction,” in PubMed and Google Scholar until May 2021. She included original research papers and review articles based on sample size, trial design and citations from journals. Books, case studies, news articles, webpages and perspectives were also collected. Of 655 citations initially pooled, 234 were included.

For each hour/day increase in screen time, Gupta found a 0.05-0.07 increase in BMI (p<0.001), which was likely due to food marketing, distracted eating, reduced satiety and procrastination of physical activity. Insufficient and low-quality sleep, daytime tiredness, daytime sleepiness, depression and daily cognitive issues, were associated with wireless mobile device overuse.

Using interactive devices at bedtime resulted in greater difficulty falling asleep and unrefreshing sleep (p<0.05). The odds of using illegal substances were higher among those who were especially young at the time of their initial exposure to wireless mobile devices.

To reduce screen time, Gupta recommends turning off excessive notifications, red badges, deleting social media apps, and instead, accessing social media via web browsers. Other tips include: Using a traditional alarm clock, promoting “green time” vs. screen time, and supervising children’s wireless mobile device use. Clinicians might consider wearing a wristwatch instead of using a wireless mobile device as a timekeeper, setting boundaries for checking emails, decreasing reliance on text messages, and placing wireless mobile devices in a drawer for 30-minute intervals to work without distractions.

Maintaining Normal Weight Early in Life May Help Prevent Male Infertility

New research suggests that more careful control of body weight in childhood and adolescence could help prevent male infertility later in life.

The study finds that children and adolescents with overweight or obesity, or those who have high levels of insulin or insulin resistance tend to have smaller testicles compared with their peers with normal weight and insulin levels.

“More careful control of body weight in childhood and adolescence may help to maintain testicular function later in life,” said lead researcher Rossella Cannarella, M.D., of the University of Catania in Italy.

The prevalence of male infertility is increasing, and average sperm count has been reduced by half in the past 40 years worldwide for no apparent reason, she said.

Testicular volume (a measure of testicle size) is directly related to sperm count. This means smaller testicles tend to produce less sperm. Up to one-quarter of young men aged 18-19 have low testicular volume, or smaller-than-normal testicles. This puts their future fertility at risk, Cannarella said. At the same time, the prevalence of childhood obesity has increased.

“This evidence suggests a possible link between childhood obesity and the high prevalence of low testicular volume in youngsters,” she said.

To look for a possible link between low testicular volume and obesity, the researchers assessed testicular volume in 53 children and teens with overweight and 150 with obesity. Their results were compared to 61 age-matched healthy peers. The boys and teens with normal weight had a significantly higher testicular volume compared to their peers with obesity or overweight.

The study also looked at the relationship between obesity-related metabolic abnormalities, such as insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia, on testicular volume. Insulin resistance is an impaired response of the body to insulin, resulting in elevated levels of glucose in the blood. Hyperinsulinemia is abnormally high levels of insulin in the body. Children and teens with normal insulin levels had significantly higher testicular volume compared to those with hyperinsulinemia. Post-puberty teens with insulin resistance had lower testicular volume compared to those without insulin resistance.

“These findings help to explain the reason for the high prevalence of decreased testicular size in young men,” Cannarella said.

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Event Information

June 11-14, 2022
Georgia World Congress Center
Atlanta, GA

Important Dates

June 19, 2022
  • Standard non-member registrant access to the virtual platform concludes

June 30, 2022
  • Standard member registrant access to the virtual platform concludes

August 14, 2022
  • Standard registration credit claim expiration deadline

December 31, 2022
  • Premium member and non-member access to the virtual platform concludes
  • Premium registration credit claim expiration deadline