Obesity is a serious epidemic in the United States. More than 66% of adults and nearly 33% of young children are considered overweight.
In many areas of the United States - where people are busy and fast food is convenient - the obesity rates are even higher.
Tracy Lewis, 37, of Reno, Ohio, stated that she is beginning to feel concerned about the health of her family.
“All of us had just become couch potatoes,” she said. “My two teenage sons just played video games all day, and after dinner my husband and I just watched TV until it was time for bed.”
“It’s not something where you can point a finger at one thing ... It’s not like tobacco where you just stop smoking,” Ann Weidenbenner, program director for the Ohio Department of Health’s Creating Healthy Communities program, said. “Everyone’s lifestyle has changed. Society has changed. And we have to try to change attitudes and the way we live.”
Children and young adults today are undoubtedly less active - but could video games and computers contribute to the rising rate of obesity in the United States? Some nutritionists believe so - and extensive studies have been conducted on the subject.
“The goal of this study was to identify environmental and behavioral factors, in particular type and duration of sedentary activities, associated with obesity in children living in Switzerland,” stated Nicolas Stettler, M.D., a pediatric nutrition specialist at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, who conducted tests on the subject. “To our knowledge this study provides the strongest evidence for an independent association between time spent playing electronic games and childhood obesity. Our findings suggest that the use of electronic games should be limited to prevent childhood obesity.”
However, many experts agree that leading a healthy lifestyle is about balance. Video games aren’t to blame for obesity, but playing Condemned 2 for 12 hours a day and snacking on greasy foods can lead to one becoming overweight.
“Most of us have jobs that require less physical activity. We spend too much time looking at a computer monitor or a television screen,” Court Witschey, healthy communities coordinator in Ohio, said. “Physical activity is being engineered out of our lives.”
Reno, Ohio resident Tracy Lewis is now making an effort to lead a more active lifestyle - for herself and her family. “Now I keep an eye on how much time the kids are on their video games or the computers,” she said. “I’ve kicked them outside several times over the past few weeks - especially when it was snowing. I had them clear the driveway and encouraged them to go sledding ... stuff like that.”
NY Video Game Community Examiner