Obesity in America is a health epidemic unlike any other. It is an incurable, silent and inventive killer. Our only chance of fighting this foe lies in preventative measures. Unfortunately, it is common knowledge that we, as a nation, are losing this battle.
Everyday, more and more American adults fall pray to this sweeping epidemic. But worst of all is the fact that this sprawling predator, has its sights set on our children. According to the CDC, the number of obese children in the United States is growing at a frightening pace. Currently, 1 out of 3 children in the U.S., approximately 30.3% of children between the ages of 6-11, are considered overweight and of those 15.3% are obese. Sadly, this generation of children is predicted to die at an earlier age than their parents due to obesity related health problems.
Though many societal and cultural factors are to blame for the spread of obesity amongst our children, many doctors, researchers, educators and parents see childhood inactivity as the main cause of this problem. Likewise, they are quick to point the finger at video games as the main reason behind our children’s sedentary lifestyle.
But, are video games killing our children? This is the question Dr. Dominic Micklewright, head of the Sport, Performance, and Fatigue Research Unit at the University of Essex, sought to answer when he set out to study the physical fitness level of pro computer gamers.
Dr. Micklewright’s study concluded that even though computer gamers react to visual stimuli almost as fast as fighter jet pilots, they have the lung function and aerobic fitness of a heavy smoker in his sixties.
Dr. Micklewright was quick to point out that amongst certain circles gaming is viewed as a sport and gamers are idealized. In fact gaming, as a sport has gained so much momentum in the past decade that in 2008 Ted Owen, the head of the Global Gaming League launched a campaign to bring competitive gaming to the Beijing Olympic Games. It should be mentioned that competitive gaming and organized sports have a lot in common. Both activities are highly competitive, skill-based and governed by structured rules. However, the main reason why gaming is not categorized a sport and currently stands no chance of being incorporated into the Olympic Games is the lack of physical exertion.
Ed Hula, editor and founder of Around the Rings, an Olympic newsletter, summed up the issue perfectly in this statement to CNN, "There’s a big campaign in the International Olympic Committee to get kids away from computer terminals. Lobbying for video gaming would be like asking the IOC to approve power smoking."