A new study by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Emory University and Andrews University concludes that the average age of video-gamers in the U.S. is in the range 35–54. It also says that those gamers are fat, and miserable, though differences exist across genders.
With regards to the weighty "fat" conclusion, it's unclear if those surveyed had Nintendo Wiis with "exergaming" titles or not.
The study, "Health-Risk Correlates of Video-Game Playing Among Adults
," published in the October issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, analyzed data from 552 adults in the Seattle-Tacoma area. The subjects ranged in age from 19 to 90. About 45% of respondents said they played video games often.
Female video-game players reported greater depression and lower health status than female nonplayers. Male video-game players reported higher BMI and more Internet use time than male nonplayers. Both female and male video-game players show greater reliance on the Internet for social support.
The study was conducted in 2006, but results were not analyzed until 2008. The theory had already been posited that video gamers wouldn't be as healthy as non-gamers, and that's what seems to have been the result of the study. Dr. James B Weaver III, PhD, MPH, National Center for Health Marketing, CDC, Atlanta, writes in the article:
"As hypothesized, health-risk factors – specifically, a higher BMI and a greater number of poor mental-health days – differentiated adult video-game players from nonplayers. 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. Internet community support and time spent online distinguished adult video-game players from nonplayers, a finding consistent with prior research pointing to the willingness of adult video-game enthusiasts to sacrifice real-world social activities to play video games."
To translate the above: video gamers are fat, depressed, introverts, and prefer to play video games as opposed to real-life interaction with people. A sad combination, to be sure.
However, as we said earlier, the health-related consequences of video gaming are different depending on gender. Since the study noted that women gamers are more depressed than non-gamers, the researchers suggest that women gamers may be self-medicating, essentially "forgetting their troubles" during the game.
On the other hand, men suffer more from issues with higher body-mass indices or BMI (translation: they're fat) and isolation issues, and thus prefer to play video games with a social aspect (MMORPGs?). This, according to researchers, also and tends to demonstrate that the association among sedentary behaviors, physical inactivity, and overweight status observed in children and young adults may extend into adulthood.
Since the health-related effects of video-gaming on people differs depending on gender, the researchers suggested that interventions be differentiate by sex. Naturally, they also stated that more research needs to be done.
Why the Seattle-Tacoma area? According to the researchers, both because of its size as the 13th largest media market in the United States and because its Internet usage level is "the highest in the nation."