Combining Digital Binging And Food Is An Unhealthy Combination


Eli Adams, Digital Associate Editor

Imagine sitting at your desk or on your couch, game controller in hand, and you get a little hungry. Normally a person would just get up and walk to their kitchen and grab a snack or go out to the store or their favorite restaurant to get their next meal. This simple and seemingly fundamental practice of actually getting up and going somewhere to get food is starting to become outdated, as both our entertainment and food consumption habits change.
Video games have been blamed for all sorts of negative trends in society, from violence to gambling addiction. So it’s nothing new that video games could be a factor contributing to poor health.
A 2010 study from the Eastern Ontario Research Institute found video games to blame, chiefly because children, boys especially, tend to eat more when they’re playing them. But only in games that do not involve actually moving your entire body. There is strong evidence to support that games like Wii Fit and Xbox Kinect can actually help control your body weight. Unfortunately, these games were a fad that have mostly come and gone and not many people are still using consoles that support movement based games.
“I can eat way more than I should when I’m sitting down and playing a game because I’m just not thinking about it,” experienced video game player and Highland student Thomas Jeneson said.
For generations now, moms have warned their kids that mindlessly cramming food into their mouths while watching TV is bad for them. If anything, eating while gaming may actually be worse than TV, because the constant stimulation from actively playing a game can make someone lose track of all the calories they have been consuming.  In seemingly an instant, gamers can chew through an entire bag of one of the several video-game-promoted Dorito’s products and gulp down a Mountain Dew with the Call of Duty logo resting at the top of the label.
People have been ordering takeout and delivery meals for decades, but in just the past few years, options for different kinds of meals and snacks has exploded because of new food delivery services that are now at the fingertips of anyone with a phone. Services like Grubhub, Ubereats, and Doordash allow consumers to order by phone from almost any restaurant in their area. Although this is clearly quite a convenient innovation, it can perpetuate the problem of overeating while playing video games because it eliminates the break gamers would normally take to get up and make food or leave the house to have a meal.
Why is eating and gaming so bad? Consuming too many calories, eating junk food instead of healthy food, being too sedentary and not walking enough are all leading to an obesity epidemic…not to mention getting crumbs in keyboards!
Overeating and not getting the proper exercise are big issues in themselves but both of these things are made worse by big corporations that tailor their products to gamers by giving them perks in game when they purchase their products. Obviously, the healthiest products are not what are marketed towards gamers. Large sodas and bags of chips are the most common products with this target marketing.
A study from the University of Ottawa has shown that teenagers actually would eat more after an hour of gaming than they would after an hour of a similar sedentary activity like reading or watching television. Researchers believe that gaming can intensify hunger pains once a person finishes with gameplay, leading to overeating.
While gaming, gamers are constantly using their hands to keep up with the game. This makes it much harder to overeat while actually gaming. But while someone watches TV, both hands are always free, making eating easier. This could be a factor to why people end up eating more after playing video games for an extended period of time than doing another sedentary activity.
Products like Mountain Dew, Doritos, and even microwave pizza rolls are guilty of encouraging gamers to buy and eat their products because of the promise of in-game prizes. This would not be a problem if it did not put junk food in large quantities in front of a person whose focus is elsewhere. More often than not, people will eat or drink the entire bag of chips or drink the whole soda because their mind does not sense that the body is full, due to the constant mental stimulation from their games.
Corporations capitalize on the weakness of people when they are distracted. But there are ways to combat this. It can be helpful to minimize temptation while gaming. This can be done by only having healthy options to eat when gaming, or commit to not eating at all until the gaming session is over. It is also extremely bad for a person’s health to drink large quantities of soda, or even any soda at all. Avoiding soda altogether and choosing to drink water while gaming can be a much healthier alternative. Also, it is vital that gamers remember to take breaks and get up from the couch or computer whenever they can.