News Release

Australians Suffer Mental Obesity

One in four are connected online for more than 21 hours¹ a day


July 2013, Sydney, Australia:  Clinical psychologist and founder of The Happiness Institute, Dr. Tim Sharp, warns that Australia could be on the cusp of a concerning condition he labels Mental Obesity.

Dr. Sharp explains:  “Mental Obesity is when we’re swamped with a high frequency of useless information that impacts our ability to function as a happy and healthy person.  There’s a lot of news out there and it’s easy to get bombarded with the clutter that you don’t necessarily value.

“Quite simply, we are walking around overloaded with information that weighs us down,” says Dr. Sharp.

Dr. Sharp is commenting on research² conducted by NewsLoop, Australia’s leading news and lifestyle app, which looked to identify and quantify the extent of Australian mental obesity, and the incidence of related physical and mental symptoms.

The results show a high number of respondents who chose to ignore everyday activities, forgoing household chores, school grades, work productivity, and spending time with family and friends, while 10 per cent even said they preferred browsing the internet to being intimate with their partner.

25 per cent of people surveyed attribute nine or more physical and mental symptoms to excessive online activity, such as lethargy, sleep disturbances, pain and numbness in the fingers, hands, or wrists, and back or neck aches.

Dr. Sharp says that the psychological symptoms of mental obesity can be likened to anxiety, depression, and stress.

“When we’re connected (on average) 18 hours per day online we know that there is less time spent being active and interacting with others – all of which contribute, in turn, to being unhealthier, more likely to be overweight, lonelier, and more depressed or anxious”, says Dr. Sharp.


Key NewsLoop research findings:

  • One in four people are bombarded by information via their desktop computers, laptops, smartphones, tablets, MP3 players, and internet gaming for a total of 21.25 hours per day, with the average being 18 hours per day.
  • We are interrupted by an average of 36 notifications daily that call for us to search for more information, such as social media links.  25% receive over 50 alerts and notifications every single day.
  • One in four people spend almost two hours every day reading and writing text messages.
  • 25% experience nine or more physical and psychological symptoms due to excessive online activity.
  • On average, people report five psychological symptoms and two physical symptoms as a result of being connected.
  • Almost 39% of respondents encounter weight fluctuations due to excessive online activity.
  • 10% prefer the excitement of the internet to being intimate with their partner.
  • A quarter of people secretly fear that life without the internet would be empty and joyless.


Dr. Sharp says it is important that people take control of their lives and don’t allow technology to dictate.

He adds, “Content aggregators like NewsLoop allow us to manage and be in control of the information overload.  Tools like this are invaluable for people who feel they are slaves to digital devices.”


¹Findings relate to usage across desktop computers, laptops, smartphones, tablets, MP3 players, and internet gaming over a 24 hour period.

²Australian Mental Obesity Snapshot Report 2013 conducted by Pureprofile, July 2013.  Data captured 1,029 people aged 16-34 years.



For media enquiries or interview requests with Dr. Tim Sharp,
please contact The Origin Agency on behalf of NewsLoop:
Kelly Drew:  02 8281 3824 / 0418 486 959 /


About NewsLoop

NewsLoop puts together the best news and lifestyle content from Australia and international sources all into a single elegant app.  With over 500 publishers and 30 categories of stories to choose from, NewsLoop lets you discover content that matters to you. NewsLoop allows you to select your preferred categories and publishers to create your very own digital magazine.  The app also learns from what you’re reading to surface articles of interest to you.  Get the cure,

About Dr.Tim Sharp

Dr. Sharp has three degrees in psychology (including a Ph.D.) and an impressive record as an academic, clinician and coach.  He set up one of Sydney’s largest clinical psychology practices, a highly regarded Executive Coaching practice (, and is the founder & CHO (Chief Happiness Officer) of The Happiness Institute, Australia’s first organisation devoted solely to enhancing happiness in individuals, families, and organisations.