Video Gaming Found to Increase Caloric Intake

By , SparkPeople Blogger

Our almost fifteen-year-old son loves technology and playing his variety of video gaming platforms. With occasional encouragement from mom and dad, he balances his screen time with other activities such as reading, drawing, practicing his instrument and outdoor activities. He also eats non-stop while growing about six inches this school year alone. When I saw the headline Do Video Games Make Kids Eat More in my inbox last week, I just had to open the article to find out the answer.

Observational studies suggest that sedentary activity like playing video games is linked to obesity issues. However, the influence of this activity on food intake has never been quantified, at least until now. The small study found a positive correlation between playing video games for an hour and daily caloric intake during the remainder of the day. The crossover study was conducted using healthy, normal-weight males between the ages of 15 and 19. They compared energy expenditure after an hour of playing a soccer video game and subsequent spontaneous food intake compared to that of an hour of rest in a seated position. Gaming with a sports game was found to result in higher energy expenditure than the energy expended at rest. There was also an average surplus intake of approximately 163 calories throughout the remainder of the day in the gamers over those that rested but measured glucose, insulin, cortisol, and ghrelin did not indicate an increase sensation in hunger. The study also found increased heart rate, blood pressure, mental workload, and energy expenditure compared to the teens that sat at rest.

These findings don't surprise me after watching how involved physically and mentally my son and his friends are when gaming. I am also not surprised that a healthy teen that is mentally engaged would have a slightly higher caloric intake over one that rests and is not mentally engaged. I would also be interested in seeing if the same results occurred after an hour of reading an action novel compared to resting. The brain requires nearly two times more energy than any other cells of the body. After an hour of concentrated game play, reading or studying I would suspect any healthy teen to eat more than one that sat and did nothing.

The important part for me as a parent and a health professional is what the teen selects for the additional calories. My son loves snacking on apple slices with peanut butter and can eat several in a day. Our daughter on the other hand would rather have cheese slices or a glass of hot chocolate. Nutrient rich choices like these over a soda, chips, or a candy bar provide a bigger influence in weight and potential obesity than simply increased calories alone.

What do you think about this study? Are you surprised that video gaming increased calorie consumption?

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I have been told I'm weird, but now y'all have proved it. I like playing strategic games and the only intake I get during a gaming session is water - or occasionally a caffeine free, sugar free diet soda. Win or, my gaming session makes it absolutely essential that I exercise. My mind is so wound up in what I should have done to increase my hoard or points and reviewing winning strategies, I just Have to walk, ride my bike or go for a swim. After that's all done I'll usually have a piece of fruit and 1 ounce (I measure them) of Hanover FF mini-pretzels. If I don't get my snack, I wake up about 3 AM STARVING and with my blood sugar in the 50 range - not good Mr. Diabetic. Report
Wow! Nice to see so many gamers on SP, and female ones too! :)

I agree, I hardly EVER eat while playing gaming, too busy talking smack and owning! However, maybe it's more of a male thing? My boyfriend snacks a bit while gaming, and I notice he gets more stressed and aggressive than I do. Related, maybe? Report
That's odd. I never EVER eat while I'm gaming. In fact if I'm really absorbed in what I'm doing I actually don't even notice that I haven't eatten in a while. That goes for reading too. But not watching tv. Report
As a hardcore gamer myself, I am never eating while playing games. In fact, for me I would play games for 12+ hours at a time and have most likely eaten only a wheat bagel or a fruit cup in all that time - and that's only eaten when I remembered that I was hungry and could actually put the game on PAUSE (which, wasn't all that often, I admit). Personally, I think it's possibly a blend of both habits depending on the person - playing 5+ hours in a row means a lot of people aren't eating at regular intervals, so their metabolism is slowing down as the body thinks it's starving; for others, after those 5+ hours, they realize they're hungry and go for anything in sight (usually Pizza Rolls or Hot Pockets back in the day lol). But for males between 15-19, their metabolism is usually so ramped up that an extra 100+ calories a day isn't going to do much - you still have the required Gym Period to suffer through 5 days a week for the most part. Report
Wow, I wish I could send this to my friend who's son is video game central and gaining weight. He 10 years old. His doctor told her but she denies it because she thinks it is "pre-growth spurt weight" and that he'll turn out thin like his older brother who has a different father and walked all over the place. This one doesn't walk and when he does, he gets out of breath fast, sigh. I am not a parent so I really don't have the right to say anything. Report
I know my son eats less when playing video games--because he can't work the controller and eat at the same time. My husband however always sits and watches my son play--he eats way too much while doing this. It is like eating while watching T.V. But that isn't for the one playing the games, I don't think. Report
My son lives for video games and we have tried to enforce the rule of jumping on the tread mill for 15 min after an hour of video gaming. As for food, we eat together and the game is turned off. So far, it seems to be working. Report
Not surprised since it is doing something FUN. Report
I must be an odd gamer then too.... as I actually tend to eat less when i'm gaming. It gives me something to focus on instead of being bored. I go through several cups of water instead, or a cup or two of hot tea. However, I also work out and have a job where i move around a moderate amount instead of a strictly desk job. Report
I think it depends on the person. I'm a 33 year-old gamer and I use gaming, especially hand held at night, to distract me FROM eating. Report
sadly, my son needs to gain the weight, should I start making him play more than his alloted 1 hour a day??? LOL Report
We tend to play more video games in the winter when we can't get outside as much. My three boys get 20 minutes a day during the school year and maybe 30 a day during the summer. However, when they are done, they are either playing in their rooms if it is too hot to go outside or if it isn't too hot, then they are outside. WE have 20 acres for them to roam on and I love it. Might not be as easy if you live in town and have little ones, but we make sure they stay active! I had gotten into a game rut and that is all I wanted to do. Since I haven't been playing as much, I have felt so much better! Report
Really sad, but not surprising. I noticed this weekend while watching TV with my parents that so many new "toys" are all centered around the TV. Even my 15 year old daugheter mentioned something about how "when she was younger......"
It is pathetic that all fun, active toys are going to the trash and computers and TV has taken over. I'm scared to think what this world will be in the near future if we are already at this point! Report
I am apparently unusual... I surprised that people eat while gaming. I love playing video games, but I rarely eat while gaming--my hands are otherwise occupied, and when I concentrate on something like that I often don't even realize that I'm hungry. Now, mindlessly drinking soft drinks was a problem before I cut back on my soft drinks and switched to drinking water--now I drink water while gaming, so I don't get the empty calories any more. Report
Not surprising, but it also doesn't have to be that way. It's all about knowledge and you can turn knowledge into power! Report
Not surprised. My adult son eats at his computer while playing interactive online games with his friends! Report
It doesn't surprize me at all the obesity has been linked with an increase in video game use. Studies done ages ago proved that watching too much TV caused people to pack on weight. Video games, cable TV, etc... all these things keep kids (adults too) inside when they can be outside riding a bike, playing basketball, tennis, soccer, etc... we're less active because too much of our time is occupied by these games. Which I will say can be very addictive. When you're playing a game, you're not paying attention to what you eat and you may well end up mindlessly munching away.

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