Despite these negative health consequences, the lead author of the study said the picture is not black or white and could one day lead to positive ways to use this medium to benefit health.
"This helps us see better how adults play video games. It's not so much pros and cons," said the author, James B. Weaver III, a health communications specialist at the National Center for Health Marketing, part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. "It's too soon to draw conclusions because these are just correlations, not evidence of causality."
But he added, "The public health community may need to think about the characteristics of players and tailor [health] interventions to their needs."
Much of the prior research into what has become an extremely popular pastime has focused on video-game players 18 and younger, suggesting that 59 percent to 73 percent in this age group are avid players.
In addition, a recent study found that 8.5 percent of young video-game players exhibit signs of being addicted to the activity. And younger players may also have a higher risk of aggression, being overweight and performing poorly in school.
But even though half of all American adults aged 18 to 49 play video games, as do 25 percent of those aged 50 and older, little research has been conducted on the health effects of their video gaming.
Outside experts stressed that this new portrait of Internet gaming is not all bad. (Indeed, a 2008 study found that playing video games may help older folks stay mentally sharp).
"We are often very much behind the curve when it comes to newer forms of media. They come out so quickly we don't have time to study everything," said Dr. Brian Primack, the author of an accompanying commentary in the journal and an assistant professor of medicine and pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Me
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