Video Game Play, Behavior, and Dietary Health

  • Mary Ballard


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.


Physical Activity Video Game Game Play Active Game Video Game Play 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



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.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyAppalachian State UniversityBooneUSA

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