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Game On for Weight Gain

Video game use in youth linked to higher BMI in teens.

Gaming and kids health

With stay-at-home recommendations and school closures, kids are playing more Mortal Kombat and Minecraft than ever. But according to a report in JAMA Paediatrics, spending too much time in the gaming world could be bad news for body composition down the road. In an analysis that included a total of 16,376 children ages 5, 7, 11 and 14, British researchers found a small association between video game use at age 5 and a higher body mass index score at age 14.

It wasn’t just a reduction in physical activity that played a role in the extra weight gain. Sugar-sweetened beverages were determined to be a mediator of the link between BMI and video game use in children. That means kids who played video games were likely to drink more sugary drinks, which would have contributed to a rise in weight. A possible reason for the higher intake is that some video games contain in-game advertisements that may promote these drinks. The endgame? You may not have to take away the consoles, but a winning strategy needs to encourage kids to score healthier food and drink choices.

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Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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