Forget teens, gamers are 35, overweight and sad, CDC says

CDC study shows that gamers suffer from multiple health risks

When you think of a hard-core gamer, do you picture a teenage boy battling his friends in World of Warcraft?

Think again.

The average gamer, far from being a teen, actually is a 35-year-old man who is overweight, aggressive, introverted and... often depressed, according to a report out this week from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ( download PDF). The study also showed that the when children and teenagers become game players, a trend toward physical inactivity and corresponding health problems extends and exacerbates into adulthood.

"Among researchers, there is growing concern and uncertainty about the health consequences of video game playing," the CDC reported. "Given the ubiquity of video games -- industry estimates suggest that they are played in 65% of American households -- these concerns may be justified."

The study notes that half of gamers are between 18 and 49 years old, while 25% are 50 and older. The CDC also pointed out that of online gamers aged 8 to 34, nearly 12% showed multiple signs of addiction.

The study, based on a 2006 online survey of 552 people between the ages of 19 and 90 who were living in the Seattle/Tacoma area of Washington state, also shows differences between male and female gamers.

Men reported that gaming gives them a "reason to get together," while women are looking more for a diversion that social interaction. Despite their differing reasons for playing, many of the health effects remained the same.

Jim McGregor, an analyst at In-Stat, noted that his concern isn't just with gaming but with social networks, as well.

"My issue is that it's not just gaming. It's social networking. It's the Web in general," said McGregor. "We've gained so much, but still it puts people in front of a computer screen for hours on end. It gives Americans just another reason to be fat, dumb and lazy."

According to the CDC, both male and female gamers were more likely to report being overweight, having more poor-mental-health days and being less socially outgoing. Women, however, were more apt to deal with depression and report more health issues than women who aren't gamers. For men, they reported more obesity.

"One interpretation of these findings is that, among women, video-game playing may be a form of digital self-medication.... In short, they can literally take their minds off their worries while playing a video game." noted the CDC. "Among men, the association among sedentary behaviors, physical inactivity and overweight status observed in children and young adults may extend into adulthood."

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags cdcgames

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Sharon Gaudin

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Crucial® BX200 SATA 2.5” 7mm (with 9.5mm adapter) Internal Solid State Drive

Learn more >

D-Link TAIPAN AC3200 Ultra Wi-Fi Modem Router (DSL-4320L)

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

ASUS ROG Swift PG279Q – Reign beyond virtual world

Learn more >

D-Link PowerLine AV2 2000 Gigabit Network Kit

Learn more >

Gadgets & Things

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >


Learn more >

Lexar Professional 2000x SDHC™/SDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

ASUS VivoPC VM62 - Incredibly Powerful, Unbelievably Small

Learn more >

Lexar Professional 2000x SDHC™/SDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Lexar Professional 2000x SDHC™/SDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Best Deals on PC World

Latest News Articles


GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy


First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni


For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell


The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi


The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott


My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.


Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?