18% of US teen are obese*

A recent study carried out in the US, Video game playing increases food intake in adolescents: a randomized crossover study, has found that trends in video game playing parallel obesity rates on a population basis.

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.”

The study took normal weight male teens and observed them while they rested for an hour (control period) and played video games for an hour. After each period the participants were offered a spaghetti lunch. Food intake and measurements of hunger, satiety, fullness, and appetite were assessed.

Energy expenditure was 21 kilocalories higher during video game play than during the resting condition. However, subjects ate 80 more kilocalories after playing the video games than they did after the control period. This resulted in a net positive energy of 163 kcal during the entire day when video games were played compared with when subjects rested, despite the fact that the subjects reported similar appetite ratings during these periods.

The authors concluded that their results provide preliminary evidence that male teens playing video games for 1 hour consume more calories in the short term than they do after 1 hour of rest. Moreover, the teenagers eat more food after playing video games without there being any changes in perceived hunger and appetite.

* The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Writer Helen Splarn. Editor Dr Ramesh Manocha.
Source:  Chaput J-P, Visby T, Nyby S, et al. Video game playing increases food intake in adolescents: a randomized crossover study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2011;93:1196–203.