Digital Gaming and Pediatric Obesity: At the Intersection of Science and Social Policy.
Children and adolescents in developed countries are heavily immersed in digital media, creating an inexpensive, far-reaching marketing opportunity for the food industry and the gaming industry. However, exposure to nonnutritious food and beverage advertisements combined with the use of stationary media create a conflict between entertainment and public health. Using the popular digital gaming platforms advergames (online games that market branded products) and exergames (video games that involves gross motor activity for play) as exemplars, the following article provides an analysis of the negative and positive health impacts of digital gaming as they relate specifically to overweight and obesity outcomes for children and adolescents. Theoretical explanations including the food marketing defense model, persuasion knowledge model, and social cognitive theory are used to explain the influence of gaming on young players' health. Throughout the article, we discuss the role of public policy to encourage the development and use of health-promoting digital games as an innovative, effective tool to combat the pediatric obesity crisis.