High Scores on Video Games Pack on Pounds

Playing time linked to childhood obesity, study finds

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MONDAY, July 5, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Children who spend a lot of time racking up high scores on video games are also more likely to pack on too many pounds, says a U.S.-Swiss study.

It found a strong association between video game use and obesity among school-age children. The study also found childhood obesity was associated with television watching, father's smoking, and mother's working outside the home.

"The goal of this study was to identify environmental and behavioral factors, in particular type and duration of sedentary activities, associated with obesity in children living in Switzerland," primary investigator Dr. Nicolas Stettler, a pediatric nutrition specialist at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, said in a prepared statement.

"To our knowledge, this study provides the strongest evidence for an independent association between time spent playing electronic games and childhood obesity. Our findings suggest that the use of electronic games should be limited to prevent childhood obesity," Stettler said.

The study included 872 children in first, second, and third grades. If found non-Swiss children living in Switzerland were about twice as likely to be obese as Swiss children. These non-Swiss children watched more television and got less physical activity than Swiss children.

Obesity was independently associated with lack of physical activity, time spent playing video games, and time spent watching television.

"Evidence-based prevention of childhood obesity requires the identification of modifiable risk factors. Because obesity is difficult to treat once it has been established, obesity prevention during childhood is an essential component of the efforts to combat this global epidemic and further research on obesity prevention is necessary," Stettler said.

The study appeared in the June issue of Obesity Research.

More information

The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more about childhood obesity.

SOURCE: Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia, news release, June 30, 2004

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