Video Games and Obesity

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October 22, 2007

Video Games and Obesity

In just two decades, the prevalence of obesity doubled for U.S. children ages 6 to 11, and tripled for American teenagers (Childhood Obesity). Obesity is an excessive accumulation of fat causing a person to become overweight. It is a serious and growing health problem, especially for kids. One major factor to the problem of children becoming obese is, video games. Video games have advanced dramatically over the years. From hitting a ball back and forth in the game “Pong,” and eating little dots in the game “Pac Man,” to first person shooters, and sport simulation games that look like you’re watching a game on TV. Even within the past six years, video games have advanced a lot. Games are now playable online against anyone around the world. Because of this, video games are becoming more and more popular, and kids are spending lots of time in front of the television, playing video games. This is causing kids to gain a lot of weight, and becoming obese. Genetics, high intake of calories, and lack of exercise, all contribute to childhood obesity as well. Children, whose parents are overweight, have a greater chance of becoming overweight then a child who has average sized parents. The rise of fast foods that are extremely high in fat, do not help either. Fast foods are a big part of American culture, and many people, especially kids, eat lots of fast food. Sedentary activities however, do not burn off any calories. These activities are the biggest reason why kids are becoming obese. William Higinbotham created the first video game ever in 1958. His game, called "Tennis for Two," was created and played on a Brookhaven National Laboratory oscilloscope. In 1962, Steve Russell invented “Space War”. “Space War,” was the first game intended for computer use. Russell used a MIT PDP-1 mainframe computer to design his game (Bellis). In 1967, Ralph Baer wrote the first video game played on a television set, a game called Chase. Ralph Baer was then part of Sanders Associates, a military electronics firm. Ralph Baer first conceived of his idea in 1951 while working for Loral, a television company (Bellis). In 1972, the first commercial video game console that could be played in the home, the Odyssey was released by Magnavox and designed by Ralph Baer. The game machine was originally designed while Ralph Baer was still at Sanders Associates in 1966; Baer managed to gain his legal rights to the machine after Sanders Associates rejected it. The Odyssey came programmed with twelve games (Bellis). Today video games are way more advanced. With the latest systems Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and the Nintendo Wii, video game systems are going beyond just playing games. They have practically turned into computers. You can now store videos and music on your game console, and even chat with friends online anywhere around the world. Not mention, play games with them online, and the games have become very realistic. The players on the game look like actual people, and the detail of everything you see on screen is amazing. Video games have even become portable. In 1989, Nintendo made the first portable gaming system, the Game Boy. The screen was very small, and it displayed no color. Today’s portable systems, Playstation Portable, and Nintendo DS, are very advanced. The Playstation Portable is capable of playing games, watching movies, listening to music, storing pictures, searching the web, and even playing online with anyone around the world. The Nintendo DS has two screens, one of which is a touch screen, it has a built in microphone, and is also playable online. These advancements have made the video game industry, bigger then the music, and movie industry. Before video games were around, children spent most if not all there time doing more physical activities for entertainment. Playing sports, playing tag, riding bikes, throwing a football, etc. These...
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