Are children, teenagers and adults who spend a lot of time playing video games more obese? This meta-analysis study looked into this question, and found that the cliché to be true – but only for adults | Social Science & Medicine | published online 9 June 2019 | story via ScienceDaily
A new study comprising a total of 20 relevant studies with more than 38,000 participants has revealed a small correlation between video game playing and excess weight or body mass. However, the link was only established for adults but not for children and teenagers. This authors identified a significant indirect effect which shows that people who spend more time playing video games also spend less time exercising and therefore weigh more or have more body mass which helps explain this correlation.
High body mass and obesity are frequently linked to the use of sedentary media, like television (TV) or non-active video games. Empirical evidence regarding video gaming, however, has been mixed, and theoretical considerations explaining a relationship between general screen time and body mass may not generalize to non-active video gaming.
The current meta-analysis had two main goals. First, we wanted to provide an estimate of the average effect size of the relationship between sedentary video gaming and body mass. In doing so we acknowledged several context variables to gauge the stability of the average effect. Second, to provide additional evidence on processes, we tested the displacement effect of physical activity by video gaming time with the help of a meta-analytic structural equation model (MASEM).
Published and unpublished studies were identified through keyword searches in different databases and references in relevant reports were inspected for further studies. We present a random-effects, three-level meta-analysis based on 20 studies (total N = 38,097) with 32 effect sizes.
The analyses revealed a small positive relationship between non-active video game use and body mass, indicating that they shared less than 1% in variance. The studies showed significant heterogeneity, Moderator analyses revealed that the relationship was more pronounced for adults, as compared to adolescents, or children, MASEM found little evidence for a displacement of physical activity through time spent on video gaming.
Caroline Marker, Timo Gnambs & Markus Appel | Exploring the myth of the chubby gamer: A meta-analysis of studies on sedentary video gaming and body mass | Social Science & Medicine | published online 9 June 2019
See also: Do video games drive obesity? | ScienceDaily