Report: Videogames make you eat more

By Stace Harman
19 April 2011 16:01 GMT

Canada’s National Post newspaper has reported the findings of a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The Post carried the headline “Videogames make you eat more”, further on in the article it added that watching TV and working at a computer have the same effect.

The article, published on the National Post’s website, stated that:

“A Canadian-led study has offered up a new clue to the country’s obesity epidemic, suggesting that video-game use is not just a rampant and sedentary replacement for physical exertion, but actually compels players to eat more — even when they are not hungry.”

Dr. Jean-Philippe Chaput, lead author of the study, reported that the teenage subjects spent an hour sitting in a comfortable chair and then, on another occasion, an hour playing a videogame. After the hour spent gaming, participants consumed an average of 80 calories more at a pasta lunch.

“Surveys filled out by the 22 young men who participated in the study showed the gamers consumed an average of 163 more calories through the day,” the Post’s article continued. “Blood tests for appetite-related hormone levels showed no evidence that game playing had actually made them hungrier, however.”

Dr. Chaput hypothesised that the impact in a ‘real-life’ setting was actually much greater than the 80 calories established by his study “since in a real-life setting gamers often play with others and eat while they play — both factors that would encourage food intake,” the Post postulated.

Later in the article, other “sedentary activities”, such as watching TV and working at a computer were also mentioned, and the initial point expanded upon by Dr. Sharma, chair of obesity research at the University of Alberta:

“There is this widespread misconception that obesity results largely from people being physically inactive, not burning calories,” said Dr. Sharma. “Canadians are not getting fat because they’re lazy. They’re getting fat because they don’t have time and because they’re stressed out, they’re working too much … they never shut off.”

Dr Chatput has stated that he would like to look next at “a new generation of games, such as the Nintendo Wii, that actually require physical exertion that mimics the characters on screen, to see whether they trigger the same over-eating effect.” He warned that if they do, any health-boosting benefit of those games could be offset by the resulting compulsion to eat.

Thanks, Kotaku

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