Pre-meal Active Video Game Playing Increased Subjective Appetite but Not Food Intake in Children and Adolescents

Physiol Behav. 2020 Aug 1;222:112931. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2020.112931. Epub 2020 May 12.


Objective: Sedentary video game playing (VGP) and caloric preloads in the pre-meal environment have been shown to influence short-term food intake (FI) regulation in children. Other factors that may affect FI control include physical activity and/or heightened emotion. Therefore, we examined the effects of a glucose preload and 30 min of active VGP (aVGP) on subjective appetite, short-term FI, and subjective emotions in 9-14 year-old children.

Methods: On four test mornings approximately one-week apart, twenty-seven children (sex: 15M, 12F; age: 11.3 ± 0.3 years; BMI percentile: 55.3 ± 6.1%) consumed a standardized breakfast two hours prior to consuming 250 mL of either a 50 g glucose preload or Sucralose® control. Following the preload, participants participated in 30 min of quiet sitting or aVGP. Energy expenditure was measured during aVGP via indirect calorimetry. FI from an ad libitum pizza meal was measured after each test condition. Subjective appetite and emotions were measured at baseline (0 min), during treatment (15min), and immediately before the test meal (30 min).

Results: aVGP did not affect FI, but the glucose preload decreased FI compared with the sucralose control (∆ = 157 kcal, <0.001). Although not statistically significant (p=0.12), caloric compensation was lower following the glucose preload in the aVGP condition. Subjective appetite increased with time, and was higher in the sucralose control + aVGP condition (p=0.05). Change from baseline subjective emotion scores of anger and excitement were higher (p=0.03) and lower (p=0.02) after aVGP, respectively.

Conclusions: Neither short-term FI nor net energy balance were affected by low-intensity aVGP (energy expenditure of 34 kcal). These findings suggest that a short bout of low-intensity aVGP does not alter energy balance during the study measurement period, and may not support achieving or maintaining healthy weights in children. However, future longitudinal studies are needed to confirm such advice.

Keywords: Active video game playing; Children; Exergaming; Food intake regulation; Subjective appetite.