Electronic Gaming Characteristics Associated with Class 3 Severe Obesity in Youth Who Attend the Pediatric Weight Management Programs of the COMPASS Network

Child Obes. 2019 Jan;15(1):21-30. doi: 10.1089/chi.2018.0156. Epub 2018 Sep 29.


Background: The prevalence of severe obesity and electronic game use among youth has increased over time.

Methods: We administered a survey assessing gaming and psycho-demographic characteristics to youth aged 11-17 attending five weight management programs. We conducted chi-square and logistic regression analyses to describe the association between class 3 severe obesity and gaming characteristics.

Results: Four hundred twelve youth (51% female, 26% Black, 25% Hispanic, 43% White, and 44% with class 3 severe obesity) completed the survey. There was a stepwise relationship between time spent gaming and class 3 severe obesity, with 28% of those playing 2 to <4 hours a day, 48% of those playing 4 to <6 hours a day, and 56% of those playing ≥6 hours a day having class 3 severe obesity (p = 0.002). Compared to youth without class 3 severe obesity, youth with class 3 severe obesity were more likely to have a TV in the bedroom (76% vs. 63%, p = 0.004) and play games on a console (39% vs. 27%, p = 0.03) and were less likely to report parental limit setting on type of games played (7% vs. 16%, p = 0.006). Youth who played games ≥4 hours a day were 1.94 times (95% confidence interval 1.27-3.00) more likely to have class 3 severe obesity than those who played <4 hours a day, after adjustment for demographic, behavioral, and academic variables.

Conclusions: Our study demonstrates a clear association between gaming characteristics, especially time spent gaming, and severe obesity in youth. Further research testing family-based interventions that target gaming behaviors in youth are needed.

Keywords: parenting; pediatric obesity; screen time; sedentary behavior; severe obesity; video game.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity, Morbid / epidemiology*
  • Obesity, Morbid / etiology
  • Obesity, Morbid / psychology
  • Pediatric Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Pediatric Obesity / etiology
  • Pediatric Obesity / psychology
  • Sedentary Behavior*
  • Time Factors
  • Video Games*
  • Weight Reduction Programs*