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Study: How Videogame Addiction Affects Sleep Habits, Obesity, Cardio-Metabolic Health

May 11, 2016 12:04 AM EDT
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Video Game Addiction
In a new study involving 94 adolescents, researchers discovers that sleep deprivation caused by videogame addiction may increase the risk of obesity and its consequent cardio-metabolic deficits.
(Photo : Sascha Schuermann/Getty Images)

With the rise of new modern technologies, the world of gaming has reached countless of upgrades and improvements, from its gameplay to character designs and graphics.

The short-term entertainment provided by games may become a full-grown addiction to some, and a new study shows that game addiction can negatively affect sleeping habits, which in turn can lead to obesity and decrease in cardio-metabolic health.

The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, shows that sleep can serve as a full mediator of the association between videogame addiction, abdominal obesity and the associated cardio-metabolic deficit.

For the study, researchers collected data from 94 adolescents, aging from 10 to 17 years, using surveys, wearable sleep monitors (FitBit), physical exams, and blood tests at three points in time. All the participants are enrolled in outpatient clinics at a large research hospital in North America.

Using the FitBit, all participants were asked to monitor their sleep for one week. After the participants return the FitBit with sleep data recorded, researchers measure their the lipids and insulin resistance of each participants using blood tests. Additionally, physical measures such as waist circumference, height and blood pressure were also taken in a subsequent clinic visit, within one to eight weeks from returning the FitBits.

Upon analyzing all the gathered data, researchers found out that Videogame addiction among adolescents was negatively associated with sleep duration, which in turn was related to elevated blood pressure, low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, high triglycerides, and high insulin resistance.

"This is an important phenomenon to understand. We are seeing that some children and teens develop serious addiction-like symptoms to video games," said Dr. Katherine Morrison, an associate professor of pediatrics for McMaster University's Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine and a pediatric endocrinologist with the McMaster Children's Hospital and co-author of the study, in a statement.

"It affects a vulnerable population of children and youth, can impact social interactions amongst youth and, as our research shows, can drive health issues." Dr. Morrison added.

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