Smartphones have become a part of the lives of people, especially the young. Most teenagers and young adults cannot image a life without this electronic device. But a study led by researcher Mira Mantilla-Moron from the Simon Bolivar University in Barranquilla, Colombia, reminds people that too much of everything is bad.

But this study was not about the harmful effects of smartphone radiation, which is what is popularly associated with the dangers of the over use of cell phones. Those effects are still not conclusively proved, but this study found another way smartphones can affect longevity.

The research presented at the ACC Latin America Conference 2019 found that excess use of smartphones can lead to premature death. According to the lead researcher, Smartphone addiction can lead to a decline in physical activity, which in turn will increase the risk of obesity.

It is worth noting that overweight and obesity are associated with several chronic illnesses, such as heart diseases, diabetes, different types of cancer and even premature death. By spending too much time on this electronic device, an individual automatically adopts all the different lifestyle habits, like sedentary behaviors, that are associated with chronic diseases.

“It is important that the general population know and be aware that, although mobile technology is undoubtedly attractive for its multiple purposes, portability, comfort, access to countless services, information and entertainment sources, it should also be used to improve habits and healthy behaviors,” Mantilla-Morrón, who is a vascular rehabilitation and cardiac pulmonary specialist at the Health Sciences Faculty at the Simón Bolívar University in Barranquilla, said in a statement.

The researcher added that an individual who spends more than five hours a day on a smartphone has an increased risk of developing obesity compared to a person who does not use this electronic device more frequently.

“Spending too much time in front of the smartphone facilitates sedentary behaviors, reduces the time of physical activity, which increases the risk of premature death, diabetes, heart disease, different types of cancer, osteoarticular discomfort and musculoskeletal symptoms,” Mantilla-Morrón added.

For the study, the researchers observed a total of 1,060 university students for six months from June to December 2018. The participating group consisted of 700 women and 360 men. Most of them were aged 19 or 20.

Among the participants, 42.6 percent of men were likely to be obese and 36.1 percent were at higher risk of becoming obese. For women, 63.9 percent had an increased risk of developing overweight and 57.4 percent were likely to become obese, the study reported.

The study found the risk of obesity rose by 43 percent in those participants who were using their smartphones for more than five hours a day. This was because the consumption of fast food, sugary drinks, snacks and sweets was double in those students who were addicted to smartphones compared to those who were not.

The researchers also found that these participants had reduced physical activity and were more prone to weight gain. They also found that 26 percent of the overweight participants and 4.6 percent of the obese students used their smartphones for more than five hours a day.

“The results of this study allow us to highlight one of the main causes of physical obesity, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease,” the lead researcher said, adding, “We have also determined that the amount of time in which a person is exposed to the use of technologies -- specifically prolonged cell phone use -- is associated with the development of obesity.”