Boys who spend more time in front of the computer are more likely to have low bone mineral density and suffer from osteoporosis later on in life, compared to their counterparts who enjoy more physical activities, a new study finds.

Researchers at the Arctic University of Norway obtained data from 463 girls and 484 boys aged 15 to 18 in order to study whether greater computer use was associated with lower bone mineral density.

The study, published on April 4, found that boys spent more time in front of the computer than girls.

And while screen time was adversely associated with bone mineral density in boys, it was positively related to higher body mass index. 

The researchers measured the teenagers’ bone mineral density and assessed their lifestyle habits through questionnaires and interviews.

“The findings for boys…clearly show that sedentary lifestyle during adolescence can impact on BMD and thus compromise the acquisition of peak bone mass,” lead author of the study Dr. Anne Winther said in a statement.

“This can have a negative impact in terms of osteoporosis and fracture risk later in life," she said.

Surprisingly, the findings didn’t apply to girls.

In contrast to the boys, the girls who spent four to six hours in front of the computer had higher bone mineral density than girls who spent less than 1.5 hours of computer screen time each day.

“Our findings for girls are intriguing and definitely merit further exploration in other studies and population groups,” said Winther. 

Approximately one in five men over the age of 50 worldwide will suffer a bone fracture due to osteoporosis, the International Osteoporosis Foundation says.