Study Claims Video Games Lead to Increased Food IntakeBy Rick Givens | May 22, 2011 | News | 1 comment | Share
A recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition claims that playing video games can lead to an increase in the amount adolescents eat. That alone is not overly surprising, we all get the munchies and tend to reach for the stuff that’s bad for us. But what is concerning is this study has been picked up and now used to fuel the claim that video games lead to obesity. In apparent afterthought, the “prestigious” UK tabloid known as The Sun wrote in a recent article dealing with the size of burgers:
VIDEO games fuel obesity – because youngsters eat MORE when they are playing them, a new study reveals. Fans of consoles like the Xbox consume an extra 1,120 calories a week, said Canadian researchers. Dr Shelley McGuire said: “Virtual soccer affects food intake.”
While author of the article, Jane Hamilton, does a fine job of pointing out the obvious seditious plans of the fast food chains, she does little to back up her claims that gamers get fat playing Xbox. As pointed out both is the study and in recent comments on the article, Dr Shelley McGuire, a spokesperson for the American Society for Nutrition, was not even part of the study in question, but commented on it through yet another outlet, Science Blog.
And while I call into question the integrity of Ms. Hamilton for taking a that statement, and leading her readers to believing it was part of the actual study, I also call into question the study itself. The randomized study states that twenty two “healthy, normal weight male adolescents completed two 1-hour experimental conditions, namely video game play and rest in a sitting position, followed by an ad libitum lunch. The endpoints were spontaneous food intake, energy expenditure, stress markers, appetite sensations, and profiles of appetite-related hormones.” The criteria for the study, listed at ClinicalTrials.Gov states exclusions such as: smoking, excessive alcohol intakes, substance abuse, health conditions, and irregular eating schedules.
With criteria such as that, the study will either have to monitor the volunteers for weeks before the schedule. Or, rely on voluntary self reporting; meaning the participants were asked a series of questions, and taken at their word. Yes, of course, every teenager out there will willingly tell the world they just huffed some chronic the day before… Nothing is mentioned on any of these sources whether the participants were administered any form of health screening, physicals, nutritional tests or blood work to determine if they were in fact, truthful or even aware about their history. Drinking for example, states a criteria listing less than seven drinks per week. Okay fine, that is a reasonable amount, for an adult. But, considering the age gap of 15-19 years, would it then be considered acceptable to find little Joey chugging away 6 pints of Guinness? Weekly? What if Little Joey decided to go on a bender, Dad drags him to the Pub and he has, say 5 shots of Whiskey the day before the study? How would that be accounted for? The study itself was conducted in Denmark, but what about other locations? Teenagers in various countries have different diets, backgrounds and other factors. Yes, the study results show there may be a link to increased eating and playing FIFA 11, but it fails to address what other factors may have a role in this increased appetite. Questions remain: What did the participants do in the hours leading up to the study? What did they do after the study? Without conclusive, irrefutable evidence that these participants were one hundred percent in compliance with the established protocol, this study is useful only as toilet paper to wipe my ass.
My point to all this is simple, you can’t take a picture of the problem and expect to find every answer you need. You have to get in there and look around. And while I offer Ms. Hamilton a severe chiding for making remarks such as hers, and eloquently crafting comments to appear with some congruency, I also point my finger at the researchers. Yeah, I ate while I gamed last night, but I also cut the grass and did several hours of yard work beforehand. Simply put: Damn, I was hungry.