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Child Weight Gain Linked to Video Games

As you might suspect, if children play videos games to excess, they may be more apt to being overweight. The logical conclusion would be that it’s because they are sitting on their keesters and not outside breaking a sweat in the front yard with their friends.

While that might be true to some extent, the focus of new research is on what they put in their mouth while they are in the midst of their video game playing. According to new research, adolescent boys will eat more when they are playing video games, even if they aren’t hungry- the definition of mindless eating.

The study, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, makes a direct link between kids’ gaming habits and overeating.

Lead researcher Dr. Jean-Philippe Chaput of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute in Ottawa, Canada and his colleagues had 22 normal-weight teenage boys play video games for an hour. They also had some kids just sit for an hour. In each situation, they watched the children eat their lunch.

What the researchers found was that when the kids were eating and gaming, they ate more than when they just sat without doing anything. When they ate during video game play, some ate even though they weren’t hungry.

The kids then took a survey and what the researchers found was that the gaming kids consumed 163 calories more a day than those who just sat with no distractions while they ate.

In other words, the kids were mindlessly eating, which is something that has been previously found when adults eat and watch television at the same time.

So, what’s a parent to do? While each case is unique, it’s usually not a good idea to ban video games altogether. For starters, you risk alienating your child. Second, there’s no reason that kids shouldn’t be able to enjoy playing video games in moderation. In fact, there has even been research that shows video games can have a healthy effect on cognitive development in youngsters.

Now that fitness can be a part of the video game experience, with systems like the Wii Fit, investing in one can not only allow parents to interact with their kids more, but for the whole family to get in more physical activity. If kids are up and moving while playing their games, they don’t have time to mindlessly snack.

(via: The Globe and Mail)

Also read:

Video Gamers Not So Young or Fit

April 20th, 2011

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