Video games pose health risks for adults

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2009-08-18 20:27

Playing video games has now been found to be associated with significant health risks in adults. Time spent in front of the television and computer was found to be associated with higher BMI, and less social interaction. The study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found substantial health risk associated with adults who play video games.

An analysis of surveys submitted from 500 adults, ranging in age from 19 to 90, in the Seattle-Tacoma area, was conducted by Investigators from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Emory University and Andrews University to find health risks common among adults who play video games. Most gaming is associated with youth and young adults. The study shows the average age of video game players in the United States is 35.

The participants submitted surveys revealing internet use as a means of social support. They were asked whether they play video games. The group was asked to self-assess personality, general state of health, both mental and physical, report body mass index (BMI), poor quality of life, and respond to questions about depression. They were asked to estimate weekly time spent surfing the Internet and watching TV, including videos and DVDs – 45.1 percent reported playing video games. The researchers were able to link a variety of health risks to time spent playing games.

Female players and non-players were compared. Those who played video games had poorer overall health, and more depression. Male players had higher BMI and spent more time on the Internet socializing than male non-video players.

Dr. James B Weaver III, PhD, MPH, National Center for Health Marketing, CDC, Atlanta, wrote in the article, "As hypothesized, health-risk factors – specifically, a higher BMI and a greater number of poor mental-health days – differentiated adult video-game players from nonplayers. Video-game players also reported lower extraversion, consistent with research on adolescents that linked video-game playing to a sedentary lifestyle and overweight status, and to mental-health concerns. Internet community support and time spent online distinguished adult video-game players from nonplayers, a finding consistent with prior research pointing to the willingness of adult video-game enthusiasts to sacrifice real-world social activities to play video games. The data illustrate the need for further research among adults to clarify how to use digital opportunities more effectively to promote health and prevent disease."

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