Can using a smartphone give you a beer belly? Sounds totally absurd – but a study wants to see a connection here.
The discussion about the dangers of cell phone radiation is almost as old as cell phones themselves. Harmful or not? The question has not yet been conclusively clarified scientifically. However, mobile phones, smartphones and tablets that are sold in Germany and Europe must comply with the so-called SAR limit. SAR stands for Specific Absorption Rate. The SAR value indicates the maximum transmission power that the body can absorb when telephoning with this device. The valid limit is two watts per kilogram of body tissue.
The radiation emitted by mobile phones is largely absorbed by the head – apparently even more so in children than in adults – and can therefore have an impact on metabolism and processing in the brain, among other things. A team headed by Prof. Dr. Kerstin Oltmanns, head of the Section for Psychoneurobiology at the University of Lübeck, examined in a study published in the journal Nutrients.
Cell phone radiation makes you hungry: 22 to 27 percent more calories at the buffet
Test setup of the Wardzinski et al. Nutrients 2022
University of Luebeck
This is how the study went: 15 young men between the ages of 21 and 29 were summoned three times at two-week intervals. The test subjects had to fast for at least 12 hours beforehand and were not allowed to use a cell phone. In the experiment itself, they were then exposed to the radiation from two different mobile phones for a certain period of time, or once to an alleged radiation in which the mobile phone was switched off. The "old models" Motorola L2 (SAR value: 0.97 W/kg) and Nokia 5800d-1 (SAR value: 1.33 W/kg) were used. Afterwards, the normal-weight young men could help themselves extensively at a buffet.
For the study, the spontaneous food intake, the energy metabolism of the brain using phosphorus magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) and various blood values were measured before and after the radiation. The results surprised the researchers: the radiation led to an increase in the total calorie intake of almost all test subjects by 22 percent and 27 percent respectively through the respective test mobile phones. The blood analyzes showed that not only did the caloric intake increase in general, but apparently prompted the participants to consume more calories in the form of carbohydrates and, to a lesser extent, proteins. The MRS measurements revealed an increase in energy turnover in the brain under the influence of mobile phone radiation.
From these results, the scientists conclude that cell phone radiation is not only a "potential contributor to overeating in humans, but that it also affects the brain's energy homeostasis ("hunger and satiety control"). According to the scientists, "the influence of mobile phone radiation on the brain and eating behavior that has been demonstrated here will make research in this area more important in the future, especially with regard to children and young people".
CHIP leaderboard: smartphones with a low SAR value
If you want the lowest possible SAR value when buying a mobile phone, in addition to the brand, performance and price, you can find out more in our CHIP smartphone list. There are currently more than 200 current devices with all information on the comprehensive measurements, test results and evaluations of the CHIP test laboratory as well as manufacturer information relevant to you – including the SAR values of individual smartphones. The following ranking is an excerpt from the CHIP smartphone leaderboard and shows the currently best models up to 300 euros with a SAR value below 0.80 W/kg:
The best smartphones up to 300 euros with a SAR value below 0.80 W/kg