Video Game Play, Behavior, and Dietary Health
Sedentary video game play and other sedentary media use is a risk factor for overweight and obesity. Obesity, in turn, increases the risk for a variety of physical health problems, including diabetes and high blood pressure. Sedentary media use is also linked with decreased activity levels, which also increases the risk of health problems. Three hypotheses – time displacement, increased caloric intake, and decreased metabolic rate – have been posited to explain the relationship between sedentary media use and increased weight status. Empirical support is available for each of these hypotheses; the hypotheses that posit that media displace time for other activities and lead to increased snacking have the strongest support. In terms of video games, the time displacement hypothesis was thought to be the best explanation for the relationship between increased body mass among those who play games frequently and for long periods of time. However, the evidence suggests that game genre (e.g., sports games versus role-playing games) mediates the relationship between game play, body weight, and activity levels. On the other hand, newer physically active games are related to increased energy expenditure and cardiovascular activity. Further, playing physically active games may actually lead to increased interest in other physical activities. Therefore, whereas use of sedentary video games and other sedentary media may increase health risk, the use of physically active video games holds some promise in helping with weight reduction and in fostering interest in regular physical activity.
KeywordsPhysical Activity Video Game Game Play Active Game Video Game Play
American Obesity Association
Center for Disease Control
Body Mass Index
Dance Dance Revolution
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games
Trust for America’s Health
Thanks to Kara Visser for editorial feedback on the manuscript.
- American Obesity Association. Retrieved from http://www.obesity.org/; 2005.
- Ballard ME, Visser KE. Social context and video game play. Presented at The Society for Research in Child Development, Denver, Co.; 2009.Google Scholar
- Ballard ME, Noggle M, Reilly J, Gray M. Rates of video game play and personality characteristics. Poster presented at the Society for Research in Adolescence, Chicago, IL; 2008.Google Scholar
- Center for Disease Control. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/obesity/resources.htm; 2006.
- Exner A, Paptheodorou G, Baker C, Verdaguer S, Hluchan C, Calvert SL. Solitary versus gross motor videogame play: Energy expenditure among low-income African American adolescents. Presented at the Society for Research in Child Development, Denver, CO.; 2009.Google Scholar
- GRABstats.com. Video Game Statistics/Video Game Industry Statistics. Retrieved from: http://www.grabstats.com/statcategorymain.asp?StatCatID=13#Stats on October 1, 2009.
- Heelan KA, Eisenmann, JC. J Phys Act Health. 2006;3:200–9.Google Scholar
- Nielson Company. The state of the console: Video game console usage fourth quarter 2006. Retrieved from: http://www.nielsenmedia.com/nc/nmr_static/docs/Nielsen_Report_State_Console_03507pdf; 2007.
- Nintendo Wii. In-depth regional Wii coverage. Retrieved from: http://wii.nintendo.com/software_index_en.jsp; 2007.
- Roberts DF, Foehr UG. Kids & media in America. Boston, MA: Cambridge University Press; 2004.Google Scholar
- Snoek HM, van Strien T. Janssens JMAM, Engles RCME J Adolescent Health. 2006;39:448–51.Google Scholar
- Trust for America’s Health. F as in fat 2009: How obesity policies are failing in America. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Retrieved October 3, 2009 from http://healthyamericans.org/reports/obesity2009/Obesity2009Report.pdf; 2009.
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. HHS announces physical activity guidelines for Americans. Retrieved October 12, 2009 from http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2008pres/10/20081007a.html; 2008.