Video Gaming Found to Increase Caloric Intake
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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