A recent study conducted, concludes that playing video games has a direct impact on the food intake of adolescents and teenagers. Although experts agree, that change in type of food and lack of physical activity among children in urban areas causes increase in weight, they have been unable so far to come out with concrete solutions. Now, the new study (results of which were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition) has documented a positive association between how much time a child plays video games and his or her chance of being obese.
However, correlation does not necessarily imply causality, and controlled intervention studies are necessary to test whether playing video games causes children to increase their food intake and/or decrease their energy expenditure. In the first such study of this kind, Canadian and Danish researchers tested their hypothesis that video game playing is accompanied by increased spontaneous food intake.
The researchers considered healthy, normal-weight male teens (mean age: ~17 y) studied in this crossover intervention trial consisting of two 1-h periods. In one period, subjects rested (control period); in the other, they played video games. For both periods, the youth reported to a research laboratory after an overnight fast and were provided with a standardized breakfast. During the intervention periods, blood samples were collected every 10 minutes, and energy expenditure was assessed by using indirect calorimetry. Immediately thereafter, each participant was offered full access to a spaghetti lunch. Food intake and measurements of hunger, satiety, fullness, and appetite were assessed.
The study by Jean-Phillippe Chaput et. al. found that the, blood glucose concentrations were found to have increased more when playing video games than during the control period, but there was no differential effect on insulin or ghrelin (a hormone thought to signal the sensation of hunger to the brain). Energy expenditure was higher during video game play than during the resting condition. However, subjects ate after playing the video games than they did after the control period. This resulted in a net positive energy during the entire day when video games were played compared with when subjects rested, despite the fact that the subjects reported similar appetite ratings during these periods.