Obesity is one of the most common public health threats among children, and excessive use of video games is associated with an increased risk of obesity. The objective of this study is to evaluate the long-term association of playing video games at a young age with the risk of higher BMI scores in later years.
This is a cohort study that included a total of 16,376 children in the UK aged 5, 7, 11, and 14 years. The video game usage among children aged 5, 7, and 11 was reported by parents or caregivers, and children aged 14 years self-reported their behavior. The primary outcome of the study was BMI SD scores and their association with video game exposure.
The findings suggested that every 1 SD increase in the number of hours of video game use at 5 years was associated with a β = 0.018 higher BMI SD score at age 14 years. Partial mediation if this association was also discovered, with mediators being irregular bedtimes and higher consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.
The research concluded that there was a small association between video game use in early childhood and higher BMI scores in later years. The outcomes, however, could be mediated by factors like sugar consumption and irregular sleep patterns.