Earlier this year, video game sites blogged about a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The study revealed a link between gaming and eating, specifically that playing non-active video games leads to the overconsumption of food.
In the study, researchers had a bunch of dudes either spend time playing video games or spend time loafing around. Afterward, everyone ate a snack. The gamers consumed up to 80 more calories than the couch potatoes.
Of the many metrics studied, researchers also assessed participants’ hunger levels. Despite eating more, the gamers weren’t particularly hungrier than their svelter cohorts.
The researchers’ best guess for the gamers’ higher calorie consumption is that playing games might leave people pumped up enough to crave some sort of edible “reward.” Just escaped from Aperture Science? Here, have some delicious cake.
Not as many blogs picked up this additional health-related video game study in the same journal. Scientists were curious as to whether distractions at lunchtime would later result in unhealthy eating. Sure enough, study participants who ate lunch while playing solitaire ended up eating more later.
I suppose it’s the Doritos effect: if you eat something snacky and delicious while gaming, the bag will be gone by the time you’ve defeated the boss.
That said, here’s good news. Playing active video games “has a small but definite effect on BMI and body composition in overweight and obese children.”
Here’s the plan: play Portal, take a break for a big snack, then play some Wii Sports or Just Dance 3. Net gain, 0!
In the end, it comes down to mindfulness. By allowing ourselves to eat emotionally—snacking just to snack, eating to fill the hole left after a half-remembered meal—we’re making it more difficult on ourselves to retain a healthy relationship with food and weight.
Something to consider.