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Study Looks At Screen Time, Teen Bone Density

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Computers, tablets, video games, TV --- these entertaining devices can be hard on how much kids weigh, how well they see, and now a study hints at possibly how well their bones hold up.

"It's important to maintain a healthy lifestyle as a child so that you can avoid the problems having to do with osteoporosis later in life," says Dr. Jon Tucker, an orthopedist at St. Clair Hospital.

More than 800 teens in Norway had bone density tests and were asked about their screen time habits and physical activity.

For boys, the more screen time, the less dense their bones. The concern is potentially thinner bones, and possible fractures, when they're grown men.

"Osteoporosis can affect boys and men, too," Dr. Tucker points out.

The surprise, though, for girls: the ones with more screen time had denser bones, which suggests it may be more than just screen time, but a combination of exposures that influences a strong skeletal system.

Your bones are constantly being shaped and reshaped. Weight bearing exercise is one factor that revs up the body processes that build up bone.

"Inactivity, lack of exposure to sunlight, bad diet, those are the things that we know will diminish your ability to build your optimum bone mass," says Dr. Tucker.

Women reach maximum bone density at age 25, men at age 35.

"Think of your bones as a bank," he compares, "and that bank has to have regular deposits made to it while you're still healthy."

While this study cannot show cause and effect, it raises some interesting patterns that should be explored further, perhaps in a more diverse population with more varied sun exposure; for example, in America.

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