The Center for Disease Control has taken a look at video game addicts and concluded that they are fat.
The CDC's study of more than 500 adults in the Seattle-Tacoma area found a correlation between video game play and health risks. It will be published in the October, 2009 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, but if you're not a subscriber, here's a breakdown of the findings:
- Female gamers reported greater depression and poorer health than non-gamers
- Male gamers reported higher BMI (body mass index) than non-gamers
- Gamers of both genders reported a higher than normal reliance on the Internet for social support
Dr James B Weaver III, of CDC, Atlanta, said: "As hypothesized, health-risk factors specifically, a higher BMI and a greater number of poor mental-health days differentiated adult video-game players from non-players... 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."
Speaking of the survey, Dr Brian Primack, from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, asked: "How do we simultaneously help the public steer away from imitation play-like activities, harness the potentially positive aspects of video games, and keep in perspective the overall place of video games in our society?"
So what do you think of the research? Personally, I think studying the health effects of video games is important, but we should remember that correlation is not causation -- people's lifestyles are getting more sedentary, but maybe games are an effect rather than a cause.
Also: Do games make people depressed or do depressed people gravitate toward games? Like everything, it's complicated: Trying to isolate specific effects of activities may be impossible, but I actually think the CDC studying possible health effects of video games is a good thing -- if games matter, and actually affect people's lives, we should figure out exactly how -- but I'm pretty sure no solid conclusion will ever be reached, because human behavior is way to complicated to fully understand.