Results from a new behavioral health study suggest that college men who play video games tend to exercise less and have poorer eating habits compared to non-gamers. Nearly 70 percent of men included in the study reported playing at least some video games.

Video Games Linked to Unhealthy Behaviors in College-Aged Men

Although research has shown that children who play video games are more likely to be overweight and eat poorly, this new study is one of the first to examine the association in college students. The findings could help colleges and universities more effectively educate students who play video games about diet and exercise.

"It's important to understand that video games are a risk factor for poor lifestyle habits that may contribute to poor health," said Dustin Moore, graduate student at the University of New Hampshire. "We know that habits developed in adolescence and early adulthood can stick with people for the rest of their lives, so if we can encourage video game users to eat healthier and exercise more, we could help them live healthier without completely giving up video games."

The Data Collected

The new study used information collected from over 1,000 male college students ages 18 to 24 at the University of New Hampshire. It was part of the ongoing College Health and Nutrition Assessment Survey (CHANAS) study directed by principal lecturer and research leader Jesse Stabile Morrell, PhD.

Students reported daily video game time in an online survey and provided diet information by recording the food they ate over two weekdays and one non-consecutive weekend day. Physical activity was based on the average steps taken per day as tracked with a pedometer.

The survey revealed that just over 40 percent of college men play video games at least five hours per week. The researchers found that those who played video games consumed more saturated fat and sodium than non-users, which suggests they are eating more salty snacks. Gamers also consumed fewer fruits and vegetables and engaged in less physical activity than non-users.

The researchers did not observe any differences in weight for those who gamed but note that the poor lifestyle habits observed could contribute to excess weight gain and chronic disease later in life.

"The video game industry is continuing to grow at a fast pace and more people are playing than ever," said Moore. "If the findings of our study are indicative of general population, increases in video game usage could translate to increases in overweight/obesity and chronic disease in the general population, which is already a big issue."

The researchers say that more studies are needed to better understand how various factors, such as video game advertisements or the gaming media used, contributed to the findings. Following up with participants later in life would also reveal whether their habits and body weights changed as they get older.

Behavioral Health Software and Public Health Data

As studies of the addictive nature of video game entertainment and the possible negative effects of long term exposure on the human body and mind continue, the software used to track and update reports of impulse control disorders is increasingly important. Behavioral health EHR software systems allow the interoperability to share data from the local to state level to allow a bigger and more detailed picture of finding within a given region. If your practice is considering a new EHR for mental health and substance abuse we've designed a guide to aid in your search. Clicking the banner below will allow you to download this guide and help you on a successful search for your next EMR software platform. 

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Written by InSync Healthcare Solutions

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