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Is Your Phone Usage Making You Fat?

girl on iphone

“What? The time spent on my phone could put me at risk of obesity?!” Yes you’ve heard it right.

University students who used their smartphones five or more hours a day had a 43% increased risk of obesity and were more likely to have other lifestyle habits that increase the risk of heart disease, according to new research.

Are you checking your average usage on your phone settings as you’re reading this? I don’t blame you – we are all guilty of scrolling endlessly on social media, checking our emails when we’re out of the office and watching an episode on Netflix whilst on our commute.

This time sure does add up and before you know it you’ve spent nearly a quarter of your day starring at a miniature screen. Not only does this increase your chances of obesity by nearly half but it’s also a complete waste of your day right?

Is a digital detox the answer? Let’s be honest, probably not! Realistically, you’ll deactivate all forms of social media for two weeks before activating them again and going back to your usual habits.

Instead our experts have come up with ways to be digitally savvy, to get the most out of our mobile phones whilst helping to avoid obesity…

Whilst you’re at it, Instagram it

Taking a good ten minutes, as it is obviously crucial, to get the perfect snap of your food before digging in may not actually be as ridiculous as it sounds!

Dr Marilyn Glenville, the UK’s leading Nutritionist and author of Natural Alternatives to Dieting ( explains why, “Researchers suggest that taking a photograph of food just before you eat, concentrates the mind to eat not only healthier foods but also less of it.

The photographs seemed to deter binges.” So, dedicate a little of your social media time to getting an ‘instagramable’ picture that will give us all food envy!

Head and step count up – phone and stress levels down

“Stress levels are rising across the board because we operate in a society that is always switched on – a ‘snooze you lose’ culture – and this is having significant effects on our health and wellbeing.

We are more connected than ever before via means of technology and yet arguably life is more fragmented and disconnected due to families being far flung across the world and the competing pressures of family life, work life and an online life.

There is no ‘off button,’ with emails pinging at all hours and personal time infringed with team WhatsApp groups. Boundaries have been blurred and it’s incredibly difficult to disentangle ourselves from busyness and to give ourselves permission to stop and replenish.

With the advent of social media we fall prey to comparison and a feeling like we have to keep up with other people’s ‘highlight reel’ and the lure of scrolling is getting in the way of people engaging in more nourishing, life-giving activities,” explains Qualified Psychologist, working with ThinkWell-LiveWell (, Suzy Reading.

If you’ve noticed an increase in your stress levels, be digitally savvy and put the time spent on your phone to better use. Instead of blocking out the world via starring at a screen, pop your headphones in and actually take in your surroundings – wow did you notice that was there?

The new mindfulness toolkit, ThinkWell-LiveWell ( offers a ‘Stress-Busting Playbook’, so you can increase your average steps per day whilst learning something new on your commute, who knew that there were so many easy things you can do to manage stress!

Phone, laptop, phone, laptop – is this how your day goes?

One simple way to increase your daily activity, whilst still using your favourite devices, is to use them standing instead of sitting.

“Office workers spend 70-85% of their time sitting at work meaning that they are currently one of the most sedentary populations.

Even when adults meet the physical activity guidelines, sitting for prolonged and unbroken periods of time has been associated with an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and even weight gain.

A recent meta-analysis which included 1,184 participants showed that if a 65kg person were to substitute sitting with standing for 6 hours/day they would expend 54 more calories each day which would translate to a fat loss of 2.5kg in one year,” explains Leading London Nutritionist Lily Soutter (

App’s are great but steer clear of Deliveroo

It’s easier to order off your phone, there’s no denying that, but having a walk before eating means that you’ve earnt your lunch/dinner that little extra.

The Healthy Asian Inspired eatery, itsu, is the perfect option when you’re looking for something quick and tasty, yet still undeniably healthy.

What would a nutritionist grab? “I often reach for a perfect chicken bento salad. The combination of lean protein, healthy fats and carbohydrate keeps me satisfied for ages, and I love that the fibre-rich plant foods feed my friendly gut bacteria.

For a snack, I go for plant protein-rich edamame beans, or I may even treat myself to salmon sashimi. I try to eat oily fish 2–3 times per week, as their essential fats play a role in so many bodily functions.

If I fancy a drink, I’ll choose sparkling water or a ginger and lemon kombucha -just to get my fermented food fix,” advises Nutritionist Fiona Lawson working in association with itsu (

Ok enough is enough

It’s 10pm, time to unwind. Research has revealed that getting more shut-eye might help us fight off cravings for junk food. So scrolling through your phone at this time could be increasing your chances of obesity even more!

“Blue light can delay melatonin output a key hormone involved with the sleep-wake cycle. Key offenders are phones, laptops and the TV. I am not the best sleeper, and have seen a huge shift in the quality of my sleep since I stopped scrolling on my phone before bed. I now read a novel before bed,” explains Nutritionist Lily Soutter. (