Playing video games causes children to increase their food intake and/or decrease their energy expenditure, health researchers have found.
Canadian and Danish researchers tested their hypothesis that video game playing is accompanied by increased spontaneous food intake.
Healthy, normal-weight male teens (mean age: ~17 y) were 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 study periods (which occurred at 10:30 AM), the youth reported to a research laboratory after an overnight fast and were provided with a standardized breakfast (8:00 AM). During the intervention periods, blood samples were collected every 10 min, 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.
Blood glucose concentrations 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 21 kcal/h higher during video game play than during the resting condition. However, subjects ate 80 more kilocalories after playing the video games than they did after the control period.
The authors concluded that their results provide preliminary evidence that male teens playing video games for 1 h consume more calories in the short-term than they do after 1 h of rest. Moreover, overconsumption of food after playing video games occurs without changes in perceived hunger and appetite.