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Video Game Playing Increases Food Intake In Teens 99

Posted by Soulskill
from the om-nom-nom dept.
An anonymous reader writes "There have been plenty of anecdotal associations between gaming and obesity. Now Canadian and Danish researchers have tested the hypothesis that video game playing leads to increased spontaneous food intake; a true test of causation vs. correlation. Their conclusion? 'A single session of video game play in healthy male adolescents is associated with an increased food intake, regardless of appetite sensations (abstract).'"
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Video Game Playing Increases Food Intake In Teens

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  • Interesting... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by arunce (1934350) on Friday May 20, 2011 @03:23AM (#36188954)
    is that when I was young I didn't eat anything and had my parents yelling at me to eat something while playing.
    • Exactly. When I was young, my parents never let me play before having lunch, so I used to eat as less as possible, so that I could back to Prince of Persia (any of you remember this?) asap.
    • Re:Interesting... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by DerekLyons (302214) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [retawriaf]> on Friday May 20, 2011 @03:42AM (#36189064) Homepage

      You have an anecdote, they have data. There is a difference.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Sarten-X (1102295)
        Not by much, in this case. The researchers collected a very small collection of similar anecdotes. They have 22 subjects, apparently going through a single experimental cycle (control and test each, I think). There is no indication of what kind of games were played, or what long-term effects might be. The results apply only to a single session of gaming, and not to habitual gamers. The headline is crap as usual, and the study doesn't really involve correlation vs. causation at all.
        • Re:Interesting... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by pnot (96038) on Friday May 20, 2011 @04:35AM (#36189254)

          The researchers collected a very small collection of similar anecdotes

          No, they conducted a scientific randomized crossover study where they actually applied video game playing as a controlled intervention and measured caloric intake. That's very different from collecting 22 slashdot posts of "OMG I played games and got fat". As to "very small" -- the results for the two experimental runs were significant at P-values of 0.01 and 0.05; it's pretty clear-cut.

          There is no indication of what kind of games were played

          "The video game FIFA 09, a soccer video game played on Xbox 360 (Microsoft, Redmond, WA), was selected on the basis that the game is easy to learn, is popular, and can be played in 1 h." (p. 2 of the paper).

          or what long-term effects might be

          No, because that's not what they were studying. You can't cover everything in a single paper.

          The results apply only to a single session of gaming, and not to habitual gamers.

          Sure. This is an 8-page report on a single experiment. It's not a review paper. At some point there will be enough data from various studies to synthesize a systematic review, but someone has to publish the data from the individual experiments first!

          The headline is crap as usual

          No, the headline is consistent with the conclusion of the paper. Playing the video game did indeed increase the food intake of the subjects.

          the study doesn't really involve correlation vs. causation at all.

          True, the issue of correlation vs. causation is not discussed in the study, presumably because it's fairly well-known that a crossover randomized controlled intervention study like this is precisely what you do to establish causation (since there's already plenty of data on correlation out there). But perhaps you have some comments on deficiencies in the experimental design?

          • Being too lazy to read the original paper.
            Did they attempt to measure calorific expenditure?
            Calories burned when playing xbox are higher than that when sitting doing nothing.

            • by pnot (96038)

              Being too lazy to read the original paper.

              Can't really blame you in this case -- TFA doesn't seem to give the title, journal, or the names of any of the institutions or researchers involved! I had to do some googling to track it down... and even then I don't know if it's open access (I'm reading from a university network with lots of big juicy e-journal subscriptions).

              Did they attempt to measure calorific expenditure?
              Calories burned when playing xbox are higher than that when sitting doing nothing.

              Yes, that's actually mentioned in the press release too -- "Energy expenditure was 21 kcal/h higher during video game play than during the resting condition. However, subjects ate 80

              • by ATMAvatar (648864)
                80 kcal - (21 kcal/h * 1h) = 163 kcal? Where is the extra 104 kcal coming from?
                • This confused me as well. I'm also not convinced "resting" is an appropriate control. Perhaps reading or TV or cards or anything using the brain results in varying glucose levels & increased consumption.

                  Worthy of further study, certainly.

                  • Indeed.
                    Some 'similar' activity would be an appropriate control.
                    Perhaps knitting, or building a lego fort.

                • by pnot (96038)

                  Yes, TFA doesn't make that clear and I had to read the paper to resolve it: it turns out that the 80 kcal is consumed in the lunch immediately after the test condition, and the rest is excess food consumed over the remainder of the day. Which is pretty interesting -- even hours later the game affects food consumption.

          • That's not a scientific study. It's an excuse for one. WHY the fuck are you defending it? Most doctors won't even bother looking further than that before telling you it can't be related to the general population.

            I too have anecdotal evidence. Mine suggests that your intake can increase or decrease and because you are distracted and aren't paying as much attention you're not going to make the best choices. I've over-eaten while gaming when I was a teenager. I've also forgotten to eat all day until dinner tim

            • by thegarbz (1787294) on Friday May 20, 2011 @06:28AM (#36189688)

              Sample size of 22 is only meaningless if you know nothing about statistical analysis. Say I have 22 people and 12 of them got fatter then the article is meaningless since you're outside your confidence interval (google those words before your next post). But if all 22 people got fat then it's perfectly reasonable sample size to conclude the sample is representative of the population. Just an example, the statistical analysis is in the study which I'm sure you didn't bother digging up to read before slagging.

              Any doctor who rejects an study that is significant to P values of 0.05 because of a sample size is an idiot who also needs to take a statistics course.

              • by _0xd0ad (1974778)

                But if all 22 people got fat then it's perfectly reasonable sample size IF the sample is representative of the population.

                FTFY.

                22 people would be a horrible sample if you selected them from a group of, say, diabetes patients. So unless we know what sort of people were included in the study, it's perfectly valid to question the conclusion based on the sample size and demographics.

                • by thegarbz (1787294)

                  Now if only this was had a completely random selection of the population. .... Oh wait it is. Go read the abstract, the study was designed ground up to meet the requirements for clinical studies and registered with the government. Also given the large number of bloodtests performed in a trial such as this, commonalities that would trigger the sample to all have the same characteristics would have been evident. There weren't any.

                  It's only perfectly valid to question the sample size if you have reason to, and

            • by pnot (96038)

              I don't really know what your problem with the sample size is. Here's the relevant part of the statistical discussion from the paper:

              The power calculation analysis showed that data from 22 subjects gave us a power (1 - beta) of 0.9, which was sufficient to show changes in energy intake as low as 5%, with an a of 0.05 (repeated-measures analysis of variance; ANOVA). Before the statistical analysis was conducted, all data were tested for normality by using the Shapiro-Wilk W test and variance homogeneity. A

            • That's not a scientific study. It's an excuse for one.

              IOW, "The facts don't fit my preferences for the way the world should work, and therefore the facts must be ignored."

          • by tnk1 (899206)

            Interesting. They picked a game that could be completed in what I would consider a short amount of time. That probably makes the difference.

            I know its anecdotal, but I find that games that have a storyline and keep you occupied for hours tend to inhibit me from eating. In fact, there have been days that I get a headache from playing, and then realize that I haven't eaten all day.

            Game choice probably does matter, but it is still interesting for the tons of people who play games like FIFA.

          • by Chili-71 (768964)
            Try eating anything while playing a FPS game - it ain't goin' happen. Not if you intend on staying alive during the game. And the time between rounds is so short you don't have time to scarf down anything. If they only sampled one game (FIFA09 as stated) then the study is flawed because the base was not large enough to determine any valid results.
        • by metlin (258108)

          Once again, we've someone with a poor grasp of basic and fundamental statistics making comments without reading the published paper. Well done. You are an idiot.

      • "You have an anecdote, they have data. There is a difference."

        I imagine it depends on the game you are playing IMHO.

      • How dare you use logic on people like that!
    • by tweak13 (1171627)
      I had basically the same experience. Many a marathon gaming session ended with me realizing I hadn't eaten anything since breakfast. My friends seemed to have similar experiences. Hell, it still happened when I played co-op games with them in college.
      • I thought exactly the same thing when I read this. Even recently whenever I get a new game, I often miss my normal dinner time by a couple of hours before I get a grip and hit "pause". I used to go a lot longer without realising I hadn't eaten when I was younger.

        Also, I've never been fat, despite being a heavy computer user all my life. I started gaining weight in my mid twenties, but I noticed and started correcting my diet, as well as doing a bit of walking, which led onto more serious exercise. I'm in be

        • I think the basic difference lies in immediate the availability of food. Since the experiment was conducted in controlled conditions there was probably a tray of food with known caloric value ready.

          • For me it would also depend on the type of food. I learned that it was bad to get food in your computer when I was around 5. Doesn't apply so much for desktops since the keyboards are not integrated into the machine, but still applies for laptops..

        • I find that the longer I wait to eat, the hungrier I get, so the more I'm likely to eat. I'll eat less overall if I don't let myself get that hungry.

          I've experienced exactly the same thing you and GP have, it's just that at least for me, this does result in an increased food intake, since the game distracted me from how hungry I actually was.

          • Ah, I trend to find the opposite. If I don't eat in the morning, I won't be that hungry at lunch time. These days I have a good habit of 3 square meals and 2 or 3 healthy snacks of dried fruit and nuts. I figured out the reason I wasn't getting "hungry" when I didn't eat in the morning was that when I did eat, I was eatinf crap that gave me a sugar crash a few hours after eating, it's called "reactive hypoglycemia". When I eat low GI foods, I don't get hungry in the same way, and I feel much more alert and

    • by Yev000 (985549)
      Yep, I never eat when I play. Some times I only notice I'm hungry when I get cold after hours playing... That sounds pretty sad doesent it?
    • I had the same problem. There are days where I simply "forgot" to eat until late afternoon or evening.

      Except keep in mind those food breaks would usually involve something not very healthy, like potato chips or a box of something microwaveable. Anything that I could make quickly, so I could return to playing. Even though there were fewer food breaks, I probably developed poor eating habits as a result.

    • Haha same here.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Homer entering "The Vast Waistband", a clothing store.

    Homer: I'm looking for something loose and billowy, something
    comfortable for my first day of work.
    Salesman: Work, huh? Let me guess. Computer programmer, computer
    magazine columnist, something with computers?
    Homer: Well, I use a computer.
    Salesman: [quietly, to self] Yeah

  • by Anonymous Coward

    We've been conditioned by video games to run around avoiding ghosts, listening to techno, eating large quantities of fruit. :V

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 20, 2011 @03:36AM (#36189032)

    If they need some comfort food -- aka, they just got dominated by me in the game -- they should be taking something healthy. My semen, for example.

  • I'm not sure how exactly this experiment was set up, but I'm sure they've mistaken "video gaming" for video gaming. In the latter case, people starve (the handful of obsessive Asian MMORPG player deaths, anyone?)
    • by artor3 (1344997) on Friday May 20, 2011 @04:22AM (#36189212)

      I consider myself a gamer, and I don't even know what you mean. What is the difference between video gaming with and without scare quotes?

      At any rate, their finding was that once you finish gaming, you eat more. As in, if Bob spends some hours gaming, and Dave spends those same hours reading, and then they both go get lunch, Bob will eat substantially more than Dave, all other things being equal. (And yes, they accounted for the marginally higher number of calories burned by gaming as compared to resting -- the difference is only 20 Calories/hour, before you go trying to plan an exercise regimen around it.)

      My guess? Playing a game tricks your brain into thinking you're being more active than you are, and so afterwards your brain subconsciously instructs you to eat additional calories to make up for that activity. If I go jog a mile around town, I'll eat more afterwards. If I "jog" a mile around Azeroth, my brain will still tell me to eat more, even though I don't need to.

      Of course, my theory is predicated on these results being from an action game (which may not be the case; the full text of the article is behind a paywall). If they were playing Civ5, then I have no idea why they'd be more hungry afterwards.

      • by pnot (96038)

        The game was FIFA 09, which is consistent with your theory -- personally I find football exhausting. Would be interesting to compare with a more sedentary-themed game; they don't consider this aspect, and just selected FIFA 09 because "the game is easy to learn, is popular, and can be played in 1 h".

        • The idea that the brain is instructing your body to increase caloric intake in response to visual stimuli of exercise is intriguing. I hope they follow this up with a study comparing reading a neutral topic (the control), playing a soccer game, watching a soccer game, and then less active tv and video game media. Say playing Civilization and watching a romantic comedy.

          If the grandparent's hypothesis is correct than playing the soccer video game and watching a soccer game would both cause increased caloric i

      • As someone who used to play Ikari Warriors for eight hours straight, my thoughts are that I think it has more to do with the brain consuming more energy under heavy processing. However, the food you already have eaten prior to playing still hasn't been fully digested yet. If gamers would just take a break now and then to allow for a nice mental recharge, they wouldn't be grabbing for the Cheetos as often.

        • Ikari Warriors for eight hours straight? Did I read that right?

          I had that game as rental when I first got Nintendo, I'm talking the first day I got my Nintendo (I got it long after - in kid time measurement - other kids). I probably played it for MAYBE 45 mins for giving up - I'm a person that never could overcome "Nintendo Hard". But, even then I was more of an RPG (e.g. Ultima III, Dragon Warrior, arguably Simon's Quest) or a strategy (The Ancient Art of War, Populous) game.

          • Yup, eight hours straight with a friend back in grade school. The ABBA cheat provided unlimited continues.

      • As in, if Bob spends some hours playing one particular game, and Dave spends those same hours sitting arround doing nothing, and then they both go get an all you can eat lunch, Bob will eat substantially more than Dave, all other things being equal.

        There fixed it for you.

        They then post a conclusion which extrapolates these very specific results to the general case.

      • by nohelix (1244378)
        They did blood tests to monitor hormones and no increase in appetite inducing hormones was seen. Additionally participants didn't report being hungrier. This would imply that the brain is not actually signalling for higher caloric intake. However they comment that they did not check for satiation signals or stress-reward signals. They suggest that the 'mental stress' caused by playing the games is the cause. This stress should be the same regardless of the type of game played. They have seen similar increa
  • by Ifni (545998) on Friday May 20, 2011 @04:12AM (#36189172) Homepage
    It happens at amusement parks, during sporting events, etc. It may not be universal across all forms of entertainment, but it is across many. Sports bars are a more egregious contributor to obesity than computer gaming is ever likely to be.
    • Computers, games consoles, televisions - all contribute to a sedentary lifestyle.

      Eating more calories that you expend will contribute to obesity and sitting on your motionless arse will burn very few calories. It's not brain science. Or rocket surgery.

      • by jedidiah (1196)

        Yeah... but it seems to be too much for these researchers to grasp.

        Either that or they are just fixated on their political agenda to the exclusion of all else.

        • by Dog-Cow (21281)

          Or your ignoring the point of the study while you make asinine comments. Video game playing doesn't just not burn (many) calories, it increases caloric intake, all else being equal. Thus, it from the perspective of obesity, it is less health to play video games than to count the dots on the ceiling. That's the point of the study.

          The study did not talk about weight gain at all, and it's possible that in fact the video games players lost weight. It wasn't a part of the study and wasn't measured.

          • Well said. The parent poster did however say ""There have been plenty of anecdotal associations between gaming and obesity" so weight gain is relevant in the circumstances.

            You should have used _you're_ rather than _your_ by the way. Good use of the word _asinine_ though - if slightly hyperbolous. 6/10.

    • Sports bars are a more egregious contributor to obesity than computer gaming is ever likely to be.

      [[Citation Needed]]

      • Sports bars are a more egregious contributor to obesity than computer gaming is ever likely to be.

        [[Citation Needed]]

        You don't need data when you're trashing a lifestyle that Slashdotters don't like. On the other hand, even the word of God himself wouldn't convince them that video games could possibly cause any problems.

        • Sports bars are a more egregious contributor to obesity than computer gaming is ever likely to be.

          [[Citation Needed]]

          You don't need data when you're trashing a lifestyle that Slashdotters don't like. On the other hand, even the word of God himself wouldn't convince them that video games could possibly cause any problems.

          Sadly, you're completely correct.

  • by MindlessAutomata (1282944) on Friday May 20, 2011 @04:13AM (#36189178)

    Play Civ 4 or 5, and you'll FUCKING FORGET TO EAT!

    • by jedidiah (1196)

      Nevermind Civ4. Try Civ.

      Don't recall 2600 games being particularly stimulating to the appetite either.

    • by MRe_nl (306212)

      Don't play Civ 4 or 5.
      Play Civ 3 C.

      And smoke blunts, the munchies will make you to eat.

      Was this experiment perhaps non-smoking?

    • And then once you're finished (if you're like me or any of my gamer friends) you proceed to gorge on some high-fat, high-sugar junk food because you haven't eaten in "ages". Of course my anecdote is as equally worthless as yours is, that's why even small studies like this have merit.

      IMHO humans aren't well equipped to handle an overabundant food supply as we are genetically hardwired for subsistence. I think that food consumption is some of our "lowest level programming" too. Hopefully research like that
  • This just in, people without hobbies (as I write this on slashdot at 3am...) consume food in their idle time, particularly while on the couch. DNRTFA but I'm going to take a stab at this and say the study was conducted using console games.
     
    I'll close this with the fact that most dining tables these days are better known as "coffee tables".

    • by jedidiah (1196)

      ...except it's a lot easier to stuff your face when your hands are actually free.

  • Burger Time or Food Fight? Might explain why they were always hungry!

  • As a gamer for many years I can amount it to that. People eat when they're stressed out and video games that you get frustrated with or are very competitive cause stress. They make you want to eat... a lot.
  • If I was forced to play FIFA 09 I would be so bored I would eat just to relieve my sense of boredom.
  • It's like saying there is a higher consumption rate of Doritos and Mountain Dew amongst D&D players.
  • Even though it's an interesting study, I have some problems with the way it applies to the real world.

    1.

    Energy expenditure was 21 kcal/h higher during video game play than during the resting condition.

    The fact that there's an increase was expected, in the real world though, kids are rarely "resting". The comparison should be between playing video games and playing basketball, or any other activity young adults may be doing while the stereotypical obese video game player would be playing a video game.

    However, subjects ate 80 more kilocalories after playing the video games than they did after the control period.

    So 59 over what they needed, but would a subject playing basketball eat 60 over what they needed?

    • by tbannist (230135)

      I was thinking roughly the same thing. More study is definitely needed, in addition to do nothing, they also need to do comparisons with other activities such as watching a soccer game versus playing a video game of one, playing a soccer versus playing the video game, or reading a book. They should also do some comparisons of different types of video games since competitive versus non-competitive games may have an influence. In additional some genres such as world-building and rpgs might be more engross

  • It must truly depend on the game. In FIFA 09 you can surely go for a sandwich before issuing that free-kick? Or get some chips in half-time? In other games this often isn't the case. After playing some World of Warcraft one could be starving, yet go on for another hour easily.
  • Causation

    Not the same, etc.

  • What do you think the brain runs on while you've ramped it up for gaming? Blood sugar will drop and you will get hungry.

  • And now do the same study but have them watch a movie and you'll probably get similar results. Munching while doing a sedentary activity is pretty common.

  • Maybe there is a mental link from what your mind is experiencing to the energy it supposes you are consuming. If you are playing FPS games and performing high-energy maneuvers, perhaps your mind gives you the urge to feed to replenish the supposed loss of calories. Action gaming does increase your adrenaline, perhaps it does the same to your metabolism and "need to feed".

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