Average adult US gamer is 35, more likely to be overweight, depressed, claims CDC

Government study of 552 Americans aged 19-90 finds those who game are more likely to be paunchy, have mental health issues, and get AARP invites than non-gamers.

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Often, games are dismissed as a youthful pastime. However, a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that the average US gamer doesn't even fall into the 18-34-year-old demographic advertisers and MTV programmers so highly prize. According to the study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine and provided to MSNBC, the average adult American gamer is 35, the age when the ostensibly retirement-age organization AARP starts sending out invitation letters.

Curiously, the study did not include gamers 18 and under, making its results skew older than the actual average gamer age. It was also unclear who qualified as a "gamer" and who did not. A recent report from industry research firm the NPD Group, which included young and casual gamers, classified over 170 million Americans as gamers, around half the US population.

According to the CDC, South Park wasn't too far off...

It gets worse. The study, which was conducted in conjunction with Emory University and Andrews University, also found the majority of adult gamers had "a greater number of poor mental health days" compared to non-gamers. They also were more often overweight and antisocial than teetotalers of computer entertainment, according to researchers.

"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," the study authors wrote. Female gamers were particularly likely to be hit by depression and "lower health status." It also found that women are more like to use games as a "digital self-medication." Male players spent "more time using the Internet and rely more on Internet-community social support."

The CDC study surveyed 552 adults--4,448 less than a controversial Game Informer survey on console reliability--aged 19-90 in the environs of Seattle and Tacoma, Washington. The location, near the corporate headquarters of Microsoft and Nintendo of America, was picked because it boasted some of the highest per-capita Internet usage in the country. Conducted in 2006, the CDC study findings weren't analyzed until 2008 and apparently not published until this year.

Discussion

670 comments
SmartGhost
SmartGhost

Hey no matter what anyone really says its up to you the gammer to decide if you want to keep playing this games you know...im saying this cause i have to prove that all video games are somewhat healthy...lol help me guys where all gammers

clubfoot22
clubfoot22

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

lethalcrayon
lethalcrayon

I think this recent study on most gamers being overweight and depressed is unrealistic. For example, 35 year old gamers would have been kids when the first video game systems started to come out. But Atari's are completely different than modern video fame systems and because of this most gamers who played Atari do not play video games today. Which means most 35 year old gamers would have started playing as adults. So chances are that they were already overweight and depressed when they started to play video games. And even overweight, anti-social, depressed people need something to occupy their time.

DiamondDogs
DiamondDogs

They're going to generalize that all gamers fit that 500? Way to go CDC. Hear that flushing sound? That's your credibility going down the toilet. Did you people ever think that there's a reason other than video gaming why people are overweight? Maybe it has to do with... oh I don't know, that fact that people don't make good choices when it comes to food? Don't exercise enough, or not at all? Depression? If anything, life right now would certainly cause depression. People are being laid off, house foreclosures... you name it, chances are that it will lead to problems? I'm not anti-social at all. I'll gladly chat with any schmuck on a street corner about nothing. Video games, RIGHT NOW; are a great release from anyone's day. Boss being a total ***? Play a game. Lost your job? Play a game. Sick of the news? You have a problem in general. Play a game, go out, do something, or someone. I'm 22. And you know I'll be honest. I'm overweight & I've been getting off my *** and eating right & less & exercising. I'm down to 240 from 290. I "had depression". One minute I'm writing a slightly dark piece of writing for English, then I'm popping pills. I was fine before then. I've been off 7 years now. There's no way I had depression. My family knows I never had depression. Everyone is too damn quick to prescribe pills now Email me at youngsy87@gmail.com. I really want to hear from everyone. This isn't sarcasm. I'm more than happy to give you my thoughts/contradictions/chewing out/jokes.

pinicilin
pinicilin

It is very sad that studies like that even get published. The industry is just getting out of it infancy/pre-school age and starting to mature. Only recently that majority of the population discovered that games is legitimate form of entreatment (thanx to wii and advancements in visuals and paying attention to the story etc). Above study (based only on the information given in the article) seems to be outdated and done as an excuse. What does piss me off is stigmatizing of gaming by general society which simply and often does not have clue what gaming is. It is ok that average American spends 2-5 hours a day watching TV and getting fat followed by depression from not being able to be or to obtain what they see on that TV, however if I come home and shoot aliens/slay dragons/race super-cars for an hour or 2 every night then I am addicted/depressed looser. In my opinion the medium is too young to really give enough stat information and to show any meaningful trends yet. This kind of studies only fuel stupid rumbling of people from Jack the 2K Crusader to Evangelical moms who are afraid of the XBox because they can not turn it on. My take on it - Gaming is amazing new art that will play more and more significant role in how people entertain themselves. Mark my words, within 15 years your books, movies, tv shows will be interactive and very game friendly. Hope next study I will hear will have a little more meat on it.

Yuck_Too
Yuck_Too

My kids pediatrician put it all like this. When it comes to cause and effect studies the only thing you can be totally sure of is that they were looking for something specific before they started and that will be reflected in the results. For example: Children get their first immune shots at 3-months and on average 95% of those children will have grown teeth before they reach 6-months of age. The fact that I studied all of my patients and this proved to be completely true does not mean I can claim immunity vaccines cause teeth to grow. It proves absolutely nothing. So in regards to this article all I can think is...36-year olds who put on weight, pick up some depression, and take a dive in the deep end (otherwise known as a "Mid-life crisis") were around a long, long time before we had "gamers".

Its_a_me_luigi
Its_a_me_luigi

I am 14 and am a gamer. Maybe the reason they got to their messed up conclusion was because they didn't include under 19.

InfectX
InfectX

Maybe depressed people who play videogames are just that much less likely to commit suicide?

Iron_dawg
Iron_dawg

mental health problems eh. i'll believe that when i see a a guy dressed in a master chief suit carjacking people while a voice from nowhere goes SUICIDE

maverick_76
maverick_76

I find it funny because I think I read somewhere that people that take surveys and do studies are usually more anti-social and this is a way for them to get interaction and a possible way to "cry for help," a term many doctors and scientists have used for someone trying to communicate their problems in a discreet or non-direct manner.

premythous
premythous

im not saying gamers suck their the only people i actually like im saying society sucks in general there are to many damn douches @Excedra ohh how i wish i could live in a gamer community

ThisNameIsDumb
ThisNameIsDumb

i'm 15, 170 pounds and 6"1. Not overweight and not anti-social. =O

yigmaster456
yigmaster456

what do games have to do with it? what if the article was titled "average movie goer 40, fat, and stupid"

Triton
Triton

I went to Gen Con last Friday...I believe this survey to be true. Except, the mental health thing. I would say the economy, not gaming is why I'm a depressed male gamer. But it does help to come home from work and log on a kill people online. ;-)

thibbledorfP
thibbledorfP

The survey is biased statistically, as they didn't include under 18 gamers, and the sample was a bit geographically biased. The sample size could have been bigger, too. I wonder how they measured the obesity and mental health of the respondents.

Oldgun
Oldgun

Excess of anything is bad for health including games. Its a matter of balancing your activities.

Slagar
Slagar

I'm not vouching for the reliability of the data, but the results come as no surprise in my opinion. In a small capacity, games are healthy and fun. But all it takes is to spend some time in _any_ MMO, and you're pretty blind if you can walk away and say games are not bad for you. I've spent a lot of time in different MMOs, and there are plenty of people out there causing substantial damage to their lives for these things. It's part of the business model - the more hooked they can get you to their game, the more money they're going to make. I'm not saying all games are bad (- certainly not), and not all gamers are over-weight and socially inept, but some games do present ethical concerns.

roryk666
roryk666

im 27, so im getting there. im getting fat too

solidine
solidine

We got it, game are bad for us. Just like, according to studies, everything else. Can't someone go study effects of gaming on the mind? Those were more entertaining to read about. I already new sitting on ones butt for extended periods of time would make them fat.

008Zulu
008Zulu

What do they expect? The most popular foods in America is High Fructose Corn Syrup, Baconaise (mayonaise thats bacon flavoured) and sausages wrapped with pancakes. All the "naturally" grown food has virtually no nutritional content. Maybe they need to study the cause rather than the result.

Mr_arizona
Mr_arizona

Just Gamers are overweight? What about most of america being over weight and not all of them are gamers.

Blackjack002
Blackjack002

My feeling is that this study is part of trend of hostility that the government has towards video games. It seems like there is a governmental perception that video games lead to non-productivity and unhealthy life habits. If you listen to legislators and bureaucrats the rhetoric is usually one that is heavily opposed to video games on the grounds of violence and negative health effects. This study clearly has methodological failings and cannot be broadly generalized. It seems to be designed to add fodder to the resentful agenda of many people placed in government. I'm not suggesting a conspiracy but these kinds of techniques (producing biased studies) are familiar when governments attempt to accomplish some broader social objective.

rockstar_88
rockstar_88

Life of the party? Check. Has a beautiful girlfriend? Check. An amazing womanizer when single? Check. Works on the side as a Personal Trainer at the local gym? Check. Plays the guitar and teaches on the side as well? Check. Yeah, I think I'm doing pretty well for myself, and if I can do it, I know that there are people on this website that are doing just as well as I am. A survey conducted in one specific area shouldn't validate the world's gaming population about what they really are.

bredeyabo
bredeyabo

lol usain bolt even plays video games. but how can 500 people represent all gamers in america? i play ALOT of video games. its a way to get down stress and have a ****ing awesome time ;). but i have stuff like work and homework, and gaming should never be put on my top things to do even how much i love it.

Spoon_Si
Spoon_Si

maybe MMO player.. I went to the last FFXI fan fest.. and seriously 70% of the players were overweight...

gameking5000
gameking5000

The message is already clear we don't need it explained over and over again

imjustjames
imjustjames

It's just another part of the media's quest to remind us that everything is good for us but everything is bad for us. Confused yet? Don't worry, so am I.

basangicu
basangicu

"A recent report from industry research firm the NPD Group, which included young and casual gamers, classified over 170 million Americans as gamers, around half the US population." Why would you do such a report. Is it strange that half of the US play video games?

Kyo34
Kyo34

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

throughlou
throughlou

how can a survey of 500 off people represent a gaming comunity of over 20 million people? this is what i hate about these surveys

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

What really annoys me, is that why are 'They' always potraying Gaming in a bad light, whereas 'they' could have have a survey which indicates "the majority of adult gamers are likely to be employed, married with children and have social lives". Just tired of ignorant idiots constantly putting down gaming. To be honest, id much rather get engaged in a good session of R6 Vegas than sit and simply vegitate in front of advert filled mind numbing re-runs! Oh, and i do have a career, a Fiance and 2 children as well as a social life.

Cobra5
Cobra5

Well, you could've just saved a lot of time, logged on to WOW (Or Halo, or Counterstrike, or whatever), and try to start a conversation. Heh, you would've learned very quickly that most of the gamers are overweight, depressed 35 year olds...

BigBacon87
BigBacon87

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Blue-Sky
Blue-Sky

500 people in Washington to represent 60 million american gamers.

fanboy_killa
fanboy_killa

i'm skinny, 35, happy & married. though i do find people that get extremely angry and argue over game systems and games a bit mentally challenged.

PabloEscobar20
PabloEscobar20

lol they got this off yahoo news,i read it few days ago.And atually average hardcore gamer is much likely to be skinny then fat since he is playing all day.

mikeyg756
mikeyg756

What a load of bull**** Gaming is just a form of entertainment like watching tv. I'm pretty certain those who don't play games,watch tv. Not everyone has such a magical life that they always have somthing to keep them occupied and entertained, no, for big chunks of the day we sit down at the tv and hope to be amused. However, once i started getting into games, i stopped watching TV as much, if you ask me gaming is alot more rewarding to someone than watching TV is. Most games keep your brain working, watching TV shuts it off so you can just stare at whats being presented to you.

franwex
franwex

Hmmm...do I know any fat gamers?? Actually...no. The ones I know are really skinny. Like me! Maybe they'll say I don't eat because i have to play. Which of course isn't true, at least it's not right now, but when fallout 3, and mgs4 came out, it would've been!

DLazarek
DLazarek

This study made me depressed. I need to find some chocolate and then play some prototype.

Sins-of-Mosin
Sins-of-Mosin

Yet another worthless survey and article that has no actual facts and a whole lotta nothing. Don't take a article to tell a person that a 5000 or 552 survey isn't worth their time.

dmcphillie
dmcphillie

550 people thats approx 0.0000003% of american gamers doesn't include worldwide figures Great factual survey, I wonder if they done it through WOW client? :)

jtthegame316
jtthegame316

i play a lot of video games but i go out when ever my friends are to and work as well.

ShaunyChaos
ShaunyChaos

Im 31. I spend about an hour a day at the gym an hour playing guitar (real guitar not of the hero plastic guitar kind.) and an hour a day playing games. The rest of my time is eaten up buy my job and social life. Iv seen it though people who live in there moms house at 35 who havent had a job or a date since Clinton was in office. spending every minute and every penny of moms money they can get there chubbie fingers on, on world of warcraft. its a scary thing man. I always wanted to try everquest or wow but am scared of being addicted. its hard to picture a game being more important to a person then there job or love life. So i for one leave it alone and am happy spending an hour a day maybe two on my days off being solid snake or cloud fighting shinra(thanks psn for ff7 being 10 bucks to download.) and stay out of my moms basement.

MassApocalypse
MassApocalypse

Have to say I don't know any obese gamers, or clinically depressed ones at that matter.

BRAWLL
BRAWLL

lol wow im glad im 17, all i do is videogames and school sports

8dillinger8
8dillinger8

i think if you want to play videogames it doesnt matter if youre fat or slim, happy or depressed its only a hobby, is not like you're going to be a loser for playing.

mutual-assassin
mutual-assassin

They could have put the money spent on this survey to better use. Like donating it to charity or using it to help some homeless person or some other noble deed. This survey is a waste of time and I really doubt anyone is going to care.

okassar
okassar

I'm 18,slim,athletic,study a lot ,and I play videogames every weekend--there are many people I know like that,so I wouldn't stereotype right away.

Lordx67
Lordx67

I'm pretty fat (I've always been like that but you should see me running cross country- I'm surprisingly fast) and pretty anti-social (I've always been like that though, when my friends come over we play video games haha) but I'm an A student...and I'm fourteen and pretty happy with life I think people who are overweight and anti-social are more likely to play video games- I don't think video games cause the two problems

sluffmochildeater
sluffmochildeater

The study specifically says that it couldn't say that people who are overweight, depressed and introverted weren't that way before they started gaming. All it really proves is that people who are shunned by society are attracted to gaming. Is this really a surprise? I have played games all my life, have a 16% body mass index and work out three days a week. Studies like this are specifically meant to find a certain thing and they skew their results to show what they want to show. Correlation does not equal causation. How many times must people be told this?