Male college students who play video games tend to exercise less and have poorer eating habits compared to non-gamers, warn researchers. Nearly 70 per cent of men included in the study reported playing at least some video games.
"It's important to understand that video games are a risk factor for poor lifestyle habits that may contribute to poor health," said study researcher Dustin Moore from the University of New Hampshire in the US.
For the findings, the research team used information collected from over 1,000 male college students aged between 18 and 24 at the University of New Hampshire as a part of the ongoing College Health and Nutrition Assessment Survey (CHANAS) study.
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 per cent 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.
"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," Moore said.
The researchers said 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.
The findings could help colleges and universities to more effectively educate students who play video games about diet and exercise.
The study was scheduled to be presented at 'NUTRITION 2020 LIVE ONLINE', a virtual conference hosted by the American Society for Nutrition (ASN) this week.