International Journal of Obesity (2005) 29, 925–933. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0802994; published online 31 May 2005

Use of information and communication technology and prevalence of overweight and obesity among adolescents

S Kautiainen1,2, L Koivusilta3, T Lintonen1,4, S M Virtanen1,2,5 and A Rimpelä1

  1. 1Tampere School of Public Health, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland
  2. 2The Medical Research Fund of Tampere University Hospital, Tampere, Finland
  3. 3Department of Social Policy, University of Turku, Turku, Finland
  4. 4Centre for Advanced Study, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland
  5. 5Department of Epidemiology and Health Promotion, National Public Health Institute, Helsinki, Finland

Correspondence: Dr S Kautiainen, Tampere School of Public Health, University of Tampere, Medisiinarinkatu 3, Tampere FIN-33014, Finland. E-mail:

Received 25 March 2004; Revised 24 February 2005; Accepted 17 March 2005; Published online 31 May 2005.





The prevalence of overweight and obesity has increased among children and adolescents, as well as among adults, and television viewing has been suggested as one cause. Playing digital games (video, computer and console games), or using computer may be other sedentary behaviors related to the development of overweight and obesity.



To study the relationships of times spent on viewing television, playing digital games and using computer to overweight among Finnish adolescents.



Mailed cross-sectional survey.



Nationally representative samples of 14-, 16-, and 18-y-old (N=6515, response rate 70%) in 2001.



Overweight and obesity were assessed by body mass index (BMI). The respondents reported times spent daily on viewing television, playing digital games (video, computer and console games) and using computer (for e-mail, writing and surfing). Data on timing of biological maturation, intensity of weekly physical activity and family's socio economic status were taken into account in the statistical analyses.



Increased times spent on viewing television and using computer were associated with increased prevalence of overweight (obesity inclusive) among girls: compared to girls viewing television <1h daily, the adjusted odds ratio (OR) for being overweight was 1.4 when spending 1–3h, and 2.0 when spending ≥4h daily on viewing television. In girls using computer ≥1h daily, the OR for being overweight was 1.5 compared to girls using computer <1h daily. The results were similar in boys, although not statistically significant. Time spent on playing digital games was not associated with overweight.



Overweight was associated with using information and communication technology (ICT), but only with certain forms of ICT. Increased use of ICT may be one factor explaining the increased prevalence of overweight and obesity at the population level, at least in girls. Playing digital games was not related to overweight, perhaps by virtue of game playing being less sedentary or related to a different lifestyle than viewing television and using computer.


overweight, television, digital games, computer, adolescence



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