Screen time and childhood overweight/obesity: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Child Care Health Dev. 2019 Sep;45(5):744-753. doi: 10.1111/cch.12701. Epub 2019 Jul 24.


Background: Controlling childhood overweight/obesity would help early prevention on children from getting chronic noncommunicable diseases, exposing to screen for long periods may increase the risk of overweight/obesity due to lack of physical activity and tend to intake too much energy, and the relationship between screen time and overweight/obesity is inconsistent. Thus, the object of the present study was to estimate the relationship between screen time and overweight/obesity in children (<18 years) by systematically review prevalence studies.

Methods: We collected data from relevant studies published up to May 2019 using predefined inclusion/exclusion criteria. And all the literatures were searched in PubMed, ScienceDirect, Embase, and Web of Science.

Results: A total of 16 studies met the criteria and were included in the meta-analysis. When compared with the screen time <2 hr/day, an increased overweight/obesity risk among children was shown in the screen time ≥2 hr/day (OR = 1.67; 95% CI [1.48, 1.88], P < .0001). The subgroup analysis showed a positive association between the different types of screen time and overweight/obesity among children.

Conclusion: Based on our study, increasing screen time could be a risk factor for being overweight/obesity in children and adolescents.

Keywords: a meta-analysis; children; obesity; overweight; screen time.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Humans
  • Overweight / epidemiology
  • Overweight / etiology
  • Pediatric Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Pediatric Obesity / etiology
  • Prevalence
  • Publication Bias
  • Risk Factors
  • Screen Time*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity