In the current study, around 2,500 young adults between the ages of 20 and 24 responded to a survey on three different occasions: in 2007, 2008 and 2012. Researchers at Sahlgrenska Academy used the survey to investigate whether the amount of time young people spend e-mailing, chatting or playing computer games in their free time affects their BMI.
More likely to be overweight
The results show that women of normal weight who played computer games for at least 1 hour a day were more likely to develop overweight (measured as a BMI over 25) during the five-year study period compared with women who did not play.
Other factors taken into account
“The increased BMI in those who played computer games for more than two hours a day would for a young woman of average height and weight equal an additional weight gain of 3.7 kilos. That calculation takes other risk factors for obesity into account, such as age, occupation, total daily computer time, physical activity during free time, sleep and perceived social support,” says Sara Thomée, researcher at Sahlgrenska Academy.
Need to identify causes
The same development was not found in men. It is unclear why only women gained weight, according to Sara Thomée, who says further studies are needed to verify the results and identify possible causes.
Gothenburg researchers still conclude that young female gamers may be an important target group for preventive public health initiatives.
The article Leisure time computer use and overweight development in young adults – a prospective study was published in the scientific journal BMC Public Health.
Sara Thomée, PhD, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg