No tie between gaming, childhood obesity - Study

Michigan State research says games aren't responsible for overweight kids, but does spot links to poorer grades, improved visual-spatial skills.

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There's an ever-increasing number of scientific studies devoted to gaming and the effects it can have on children, but researchers are approaching the same problems and sometimes coming away with different answers. A new study authored by Dr. Linda A. Jackson of Michigan State University found no link between the amount of time kids spent gaming and their body mass index (BMI) number or weight, but it did tie gaming to lower grade-point averages in school. Both findings run contrary to some previous research in the field.

Sparty knows a thing or two about games.

Jackson and MSU researchers surveyed 482 Michigan children about their gaming, Internet, and cell phone use, examining whether those were correlated with their weight, BMI, grades in school, social self-esteem, and overall self-esteem. The researchers found no link between the three activities and higher BMI or body weight, but they did note some other correlates they had.

"Video game playing appears to be a double-edged sword," according to the researchers. "It strongly contributed to children's visual-spatial skills, skills believed to be the foundation for the later learning in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Yet there was no relationship between video game playing and mathematics test scores and, consistent with previous research, a negative relationship between video game playing and grades in school."

The previous research referred to was actually the National Institute on Media and the Family's 2006 video game industry report card, in which the watchdog group said its own research had identified a link between gaming and poor grades. The Michigan State paper did not address a Yale study published in November that found regular gaming in teenaged boys was associated with higher grade-point averages.

The newly released study runs contrary to another finding in that same NIMF report card research, which said its kids who gamed frequently were more likely to be obese. However, previous studies published in peer-reviewed journals in 2004 and 1998 have also tied gaming to childhood obesity.

The survey responses also found that avid gamers typically had lower social self-esteem than their less frequently gaming counterparts. On the other hand, researchers found that the kids who used cell phones more typically had higher social self-esteem. Internet usage was also tied to its own positive trait, as kids who were online more possessed significantly boosted reading skills.

Discussion

236 comments
Scr00I
Scr00I

Everything needs moderation, everything.

hyttenhoof
hyttenhoof

@backlashasad - or maybe just blame themselves, and not live in denial.

backlashasad
backlashasad

stop blaming games and blame mcdonalds , you ignorant moms.

gamingfrendly
gamingfrendly

those whos hiding behaind the corner waiting for some thing to happen then blame a game for it better get a life.

KrazzyDJ
KrazzyDJ

Now, 482 Michigan kids will decide the impact of video games on our lives ??? Seriously, I'm done with this. The best thing to do, I feel, is to just read these studies like a normal news article with my morning breakfast and get done with them. And video games at least involve you in some way or the other (as a matter of fact, in a big way). I believe television is far more worse - what do you get by watching a TV series ?? Knowledge ?? Fitness ?? Perhaps nothing. So, I love video games for what they are. And I ain't gonna leave them any time soon !!!

MagicLink95
MagicLink95

About the grades though, I get amazing grades and I play video games fairly often. @naryanrobinson: All video games are just a string of numbers. @-Shadowbinded-: Finally someone that realizes that TV is worse for you than video games.

MagicMatt777
MagicMatt777

Stupid. These tests are so pointless. What about those who read? Just sit on the couch all day? Same thing. Blah.

zidan4000
zidan4000

who said that video games make you fat in first place? i play more than 30 hours a week in the summer and i am still very healthy and i eat my regular meals and go to the gym.

oonge
oonge

the only link to obesity should be eating... note the positive on increased visual-spatial skills!!

HLno1
HLno1

Bah, I think its stupid.. There are all kinds of people like in everything else in life... My friends that play videogames are actually very intelligent and athletic people. Woops, Im late for a tennis match with one of them!

digi-demon
digi-demon

Hey kids, be like PacMan... regularly eat loads of fruit and ghosts and top up with vitamin pills... :?

Hydrolix
Hydrolix

I think most of you are missing the point of these studies. Most studies of this kind are in an effort to either bolster an idea or to tear an idea down. One camp is setting up studies in an attempt to demonstrate that games are bad for people, particularly children, so that they can rationalize more governmental control of the medium. The other camp is attempting to do the opposite. They are looking at "obvious" traits because those are something that legislators can grasp a hold onto and easily use for sensationalism and for support of their band-wagon.

Get_Shorty
Get_Shorty

Moderation is the key to anything.

-Shadowbinded-
-Shadowbinded-

@Daian Lol, I suppose we did. It's way funny when people give out empty insults.

Daian
Daian

@-Shadowbinded- Same..kind of...sort of....yeah,sure,fine :P. I suppose we got off on the wrong foot. At least u're different then the usual rants i come across (damn u trolls, DAMN UUUUU!!!!! ;) ).

polterdice
polterdice

For those that figured out the lack of correlation between gaming and obesity, good job, that was the point of the study. For those that criticize a study on "common sense" at face value, science is about testing such phenomena and this is where breakthroughs occur. For those that take this study personally, realize no one is making you a statistic. Science recognizes and acknowledges exceptions. Studies are meant to generalize. For those criticizing the size of the study, realize a good study is defined by validity and reliability, or the ability the study measures its intended purpose and the ability the study can be reproduced, not by its size. As we discover, we're willing to invest more and create larger studies. Empirical evidence outweighs ignorance.

SicklySunStorm
SicklySunStorm

Gaming is not a "cause" for childhood obesity, but it's easy to make a distinction which says if you do nothing but eat pies and play games, you're gonna be a fatty-bum-bum.... whether adult or child. You can game and exercise still, so gaming is nowhere near a direct cause. You can argue that in numbers, perhaps there are more gaming pie eaters than there are fitness fanatic gamers, but again, that doesn't mean that gaming is a direct cause. They're just looking at what other habits more of the pool of gamers have and making unrelated, unwelcome links, based on the assumption that because gaming isn't a strenuous activity (motion and exercise games excluded), then it somehow must be why we have so many fat-kids. And here I was thinking it was the McDonalds saver menu that was to blame ;) ha ha

naryanrobinson
naryanrobinson

Gaming, as the foundation for maths and engineering? Uh, no. Science maybe, as visualising what's happening at an atomic level is linked to spatial awareness and really helps understanding, but maths? Where is the spatial awareness in maths? Wise up.

Cutepotatoes
Cutepotatoes

A Better link would be Stoners and video games.

Lothos_Delion
Lothos_Delion

I guess it proves that you cant eat dvds and blueray disks to gain weight.

SuprSaiyanRockr
SuprSaiyanRockr

Funny, I always thought that obesity was linked with eating lots of sugar and fast foods and little exercise.

russianzombie
russianzombie

I wonder how much they got paid to fudge the data a bit...

shani_boy101
shani_boy101

482 children from only one state doesn't seem like much of a study, but it's findings seem accurate.

Master_Turismo
Master_Turismo

482 people eh? That's not exactly not enough people to say that games are the cause of poor grades.

CmD_cOoKiE
CmD_cOoKiE

Saying gamers get poor grades is like saying football players are muscular people. Sure the activity attracts that type of person but there are so many others that are productive and play videogames or that aren't workout junkies and enjoy football.

-Shadowbinded-
-Shadowbinded-

@Daian People do those kinds of research because not everyone's a gamer. Most controlled gamers (that is, they're not addicts) understand these things, but old-school parents don't. Just ask people who don't game and you'll see people have a lot of dumb superstitions about gaming. But then again, all you have to do is tell them "Fool, look in a mirror. You spend all night in front of the television. At least, in gaming, you interact with something." So, yeah, you have to keep the audience in mind ;) their research is directed to those with dumb superstitions. Personally, I believe gaming is way more productive than letting your kids watch TV all day, lol. Nice to make your acquaintance, btw :)

StSk8ter29
StSk8ter29

What about acne and hemorrhoids? ; )

kbaily
kbaily

Hell no. There are plenty of people who don't game who are fat. If all you eat is junk food and don't excercise then you're going to be overweight.

Ryagan
Ryagan

Video games are not to blame for health issues and bad grades. Poor health management and a lack of moderation, however, are to blame.

MasterDZ0522
MasterDZ0522

Lol either dumb or fake because my GPA is over a 4.0 as a freshman :P

mario-nin-freak
mario-nin-freak

Only 482 kids were surveyed? Wow, don't trust anything this article says:P

nevryn
nevryn

@Daian In answer to your question, there are actually 2 things at play here. 1) The publishing process is horrible. Most likely this study was done 2-3 years ago, however, to get it published you have to go through an extremely slow and lengthy process. GS mentions it doesn't address the other study... because that study probably wasn't published when this one actually went to press. Research (especially like this) is always behind because of that. 2) The contradictions are often the result of methodology differences. The best way to determine which is better is to look exactly at what they did, including where their participants were from. For example, perhaps the obese group also was taken from an Urban area which is highly correlated with obesity. Unfortunately, news sites like this never put that info in, and the original studies can be hard to obtain. Eventually, someone will write a worthwhile metaanalysis that combines the studies and gives us a better picture of what is going on. I've reviewed a couple already but they have been premature based on like 8-9 studies. You really need around 20 to get a good feeling of what is going on. Of course, that's the one article that won't get put on GS, because it isn't sensational or new, and probably because the reporters won't understand it.

SuperYeti22
SuperYeti22

Parents need to back off of video games over these things, because obesity, stupidity, and violence have always been around, long before video games. Video games don't cause these things, bad parenting does.

rebornblood
rebornblood

im 5'9" and i weigh 164lbs im almost 19 and im not obese been playing video games my whole life. im also in the army...lol

DANNNNNNYYYYYYY
DANNNNNNYYYYYYY

my opinion on this is....."what a load of crap" the being fat can be your eating too much(stress can cause that too) or its biological.

pesh_fury
pesh_fury

so now they blame games for everything? good parent = solution

Glade_Gnarr
Glade_Gnarr

this kind of studies are complete bs, there are too many variables to consider.

CLOCKWORKIAN
CLOCKWORKIAN

I mean, how the hell are you going to eat a chicken wing while you're trying to beat a boss in Demon's Souls for the fifth time?!

steve4123456789
steve4123456789

Amazing how these ethnic problems always drop on the gaming industry, they were blaming Eric, and Dylan for playing video games not to long ago for what happend.

itachi1993
itachi1993

The blame for fat kids is that fat foods cost more than healthy foods.

itachi1993
itachi1993

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

BattleSword1
BattleSword1

I've been gaming since the dawn of the controller, and I'm a strictly straight B's-and-A's student and am not overweight by the least. I wouldn't say that video games, among other things, have adversely affected the way I think. In fact, if anything, I'm a bit on the nerdy side. And to think I still attract a reasonable amount of girls.

jonnybutler11
jonnybutler11

i think that its not about how much you play video games that affects your grades, but more importantly how much you care about your grades. i play lots of video games, but i still take the time to study, hand in my homework, etc.

XenoLair
XenoLair

Who ever said there was a tie? I'm the biggest geek I know and I'm underweight - I stay away from that oh so healthy exercise too... though that doesn't mean gaming makes you slim. Its mostly genetics and of course those fast food burgers you people love so much. Want meat? Eat a blood sausage or fried spam or something... its not healthy but at least its not fast food.

liam82517
liam82517

Were video games supposed to be blamed for the fat kids of the 1970s? or 60s? or 50s? Why was this even a question? Some people are fat and some are skinny. Some people run around all over the place and are still fat, yet some skinny twit that sits on their ass all day eats nothing but pizza and its still stick thin. Its called GENETICS!!!!!!! and it has nothing to do with video games. A sensible diet and regular amount of exercise is the best defence but as I said some people just cant help being chubby no matter what the do.

wwwgippal2
wwwgippal2

Games don't make people fat Idiotic parents and Mc Donald's do