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What is the Connection Between Video Games and Obesity?

Anna T.
By
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Video games and obesity may be connected because people who are obese tend to spend more time playing video games than people who are not obese. Studies have shown that these findings particularly seem to apply to children. Even though video games and obesity are somewhat related, experts do not generally believe that playing video games causes obesity directly. People who watch television regularly but do not play video games are usually not as overweight as people who spend most of their time playing video games. Some experts believe that people who are obese might play video games more often because they are not as socially active as people who aren't obese and that playing video games does not directly cause obesity.

Many parents who have children who are obese often become concerned because their children might play video games regularly, and parents tend to believe that the video game activity is either causing or worsening their children's obesity levels. For a long time, most people believed that both television watching and video game playing contributed to obesity because both are sedentary activities. People who are obese would likely benefit from spending some time away from the television if they are in front of it too often, but the game playing isn't necessarily the primary cause of obesity. Studies have suggested that video games and obesity are related because video game playing is an activity that many obese people enjoy participating in.

A study done by the University of Texas at Austin followed the video game playing and television watching habits of 3,000 children up to the age of 12 as well as their overall activity levels. According to the study, the thinner children watched as much television as the obese children but in most cases did not play video games as often, although there were some thinner children in the study who played video games excessively. The study found that the vast majority of obese children spent a great deal of time playing video games as well as watching television. Obese children in the study were not completely inactive and did spend some time participating in other activities, such as sports or other exercise, in attempts to lose weight.

The final conclusion of the video games and obesity study was that no connection between weight and activity levels existed among study participants because the obese children did do things apart from watching television and playing video games to lose weight. According to the study, it is likely that video game participation is more often a side effect of being obese rather than a cause. More research may be necessary, but it might be possible that video games and obesity are connected because video games are a hobby that obese people seem to enjoy more than thinner people do.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Anna T.
By Anna T.
Anna Thurman is a skilled writer who lends her talents to The Health Board. Her ability to research and present information in an engaging and accessible manner allows her to create content that resonates with readers across a wide range of subjects.
Discussion Comments
By pleonasm — On Jan 04, 2014

@Ana1234 - I don't know about that. Have parents ever been more engaged than they are now? I mean, you might point at housewives from a hundred years ago, but how much time did they actually spend playing with their kids outdoors?

I do think that video games can have an important place in the modern family, but I also think younger kids should only be able to use them under supervision and with an adult.

I also think that adults should just go ahead and play with their kids. Go and have a ballgame or go for a nature hike. It's good for both of you and there's nothing like leading by example.

The example ought to be that they can be active and play video games rather than just one or the other.

By Ana1234 — On Jan 03, 2014

@browncoat - He might just be a natural fidgeter. People who are generally don't ever gain that much weight because they burn it off with their constant movement.

Or he might just be a kid who likes to move. We actually do a disservice to our children in encouraging them to sit still, because it wastes time they could be using to burn off some calories naturally.

Although I don't think that obesity in kids is as much of a problem as people seem to think it is. I think that we have some outdated methods of measuring weight, particularly in young people. I also think there is an awful lot of pressure on them to look a certain way and that can actually lead to worse eating habits in the long run.

I think people just like to demonize computer games, but they really aren't the culprit here. Low self esteem and disengaged parents are the suspects I'm looking at.

By browncoat — On Jan 02, 2014

I wonder if this study took into account the recent video games that require active participation from the gamer. My nephew plays a lot on the Wii and he has to jump around and do all kinds of physical activity in order to win.

I've noticed that he even jumps around a lot when he's playing something like a car driving game, just because he gets excited about it. But he is in fairly good shape as far as I know and we play a lot of outdoor games with him when he visits as well. I hope he doesn't get too much into the habit of playing games all the time and eventually does suffer from childhood obesity.

Anna T.
Anna T.
Anna Thurman is a skilled writer who lends her talents to The Health Board. Her ability to research and present information in an engaging and accessible manner allows her to create content that resonates with readers across a wide range of subjects.
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