Children who watched a large amount of television were found to have narrowed arteries behind the eyes.
For children as young as six spending too much time watching TV or playing on computers increases risk of heart problems later life, scientists warn.
A study of 1,492 primary school pupils found that those who spent hours glued to the screen suffered narrowing of blood vessels in their eyes – an early warning sign of increased likelihood of heart disease and high blood pressure.
But those who exercised for one hour a day were significantly healthier.
The study was carried out by Dr Bamini Gopinath and a team of researchers at the University of Sydney.
Parents answered a questionnaire detailing the amount of time their children spent watching TV, playing video games, reading and engaging in indoor and outdoor physical activity.
Scientists then took digital photographs of the blood vessels at the back of each child’s eye and calculated their size.
They also measured height, weight, body mass index and blood pressure.
They found on average, children spent 1.9 hours per day watching TV or playing on their computer and only 36 minutes doing physical activity.
They had an average ‘retinal arteriolar’ narrowing of 2.3 microns.
But those who regularly participated in outdoor physical activity had retinal blood vessels that were 2.2 microns wider.
Dr Gopinath said that ‘replacing one hour a day of screen time with physical activity’ could be enough to stop the effects.
Via Daily Mail