The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that almost 18% of US teens are obese. Although most experts agree that our growing obesity "epidemic" is driven by both inadequate physical activity and excessive caloric intake, implementing solutions is extraordinarily difficult. One area that has caught the attention of health researchers is the observation that trends in video game playing parallel obesity rates on a population basis. Furthermore, several studies have documented a positive association between how much time a child plays video games and his or her chance of being obese. However, correlation does not necessarily imply causality, and controlled intervention studies are required to test whether playing video games causes children to increase their food intake and/or decrease their energy expenditure. In the first such study of this kind, Canadian and Danish researchers tested their hypothesis that video game playing is accompanied by increased spontaneous food intake.
"This study is an especially important piece of the scientific puzzle in this arena because it went beyond simply simultaneously documenting the relationship between video game playing and food intake in kids," said Shelley McGuire, PhD, American Society for Nutrition spokesperson. "Instead, it actually studied the same group of children during two separate, experimentally-administered periods of rest and video-game play, and then used gold-standard methods to measure important outcomes such as food intake, energy expenditure, and feelings of hunger and appetite. Consequently, the results can be used with a high degree of confidence to suggest that playing virtual soccer can affect food intake. Very interesting! Given our current obesity "crisis" in kids, I will be curious to follow the results of follow-up studies. For instance, do violent games or educational games have the same effect as sports-related games?"
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Rigorous study confirms video game playing increases food intake.
I blame Pac-Man. From EurekAlert: