Study: Adult Video Gamers Fatter, More Depressed

US adult gamers are chubbier, less happy than non-gamers

A new study from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention working with Emory and Andrews Universities suggests the average US adult gamer is chubbier and less happy than the rest of the population. Apparently eschewing flea markets, churches, bowling alleys, sleepovers, and bingo night, they're also more dependent on the internet to make friends.

The average age of an "adult" gamer? 35, according to the study, a number that's been creeping up for years as those of us who grew up with Commodore and Atari and Pong carry the flag forward toward quadragenarianism.

The CDC-led study sampled responses from 500 adults aged 19 to 90 in the Seattle-Tacoma area, of which roughly 45 percent said they played video games. Of that 45 percent, male gamers had higher body-mass indexes (BMIs) and used the internet more than non-gamers, while female gamers reported higher incidence of depression and health issues. Both male and female gamers reportedly depend more on the internet when making new friends.

I'm not sure I see the upside/downside of the last point, and I'd argue whether "extroversion" is reducible to face-to-face activities. Isn't social engagement through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, instant messaging, email, etc. a form of extroversion ("outgoing," "sociable," "gregarious") too?

Unfortunately, the study doesn't appear to control for possibly related factors, say whether a respondent's career has any bearing on their physiological and mental well-being. Is there a correlation between career interest in computers and high technology and video gaming? If so, what about the sedentary nature of various technology-related jobs? So there's a correlation between adult male video game players and higher BMIs...could there be other explanatory correlations?

And what about those feelings of "depression"? Are they due to "withdrawal" symptoms as some- (without a shred of medical evidence, mind you) have claimed? Or could it be that games in at least some instances aid in highlighting the depressingly drone-like aspects of so many middle-class jobs? Do the games cause depression? Or simply reveal and/or highlight other elements of a person's life responsible for as much?

I can't discount the BMI claim if accurate. "Fat" isn't the new "robust." The bottom line fellas? Get off your duff and exercise.

Just not too much.

As they say, "everything in moderation."

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Matt Peckham

PC World (US online)

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