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Teenagers who play video games are at greater risk of diabetes

Posted in: General Health 02 Oct, 2012

The relationship between video games and teenagers has become somewhat of a cliché, with the general perception being that teens would rather interact with the fantasy world fed through their consoles, than face up to any form of reality in the real world. However, researchers have warned that teenagers that do stay up all night to play these games could be putting themselves at an increased risk of diabetes. According to the Daily Mail, the report claims that increasing the amount of sleep that teenagers get, could lower levels of insulin resistance and prevent the arrival of the potentially lethal condition from occurring in the future.

The study

Dr Karen Matthews who led the study published in this month’s issue of the journal SLEEP said that: ‘High levels of insulin resistance can lead to the development of diabetes.

‘We found if teens that normally get six hours of sleep per night get one extra hour of sleep, they would improve insulin resistance by nine per cent.’

The study taken by the University of Pittsburgh department of psychiatry observed and kept track of the sleeping patterns and insulin resistance levels of 245 healthy adolescents. Findings showed that higher insulin resistance is linked with shorter periods of sleep and that additional factors such as gender, race, body mass index and waist circumference, were irrespective and had no influence in the findings.

Nearly 2. 8 million people in the UK alone suffer from diabetes, a condition when a person’s blood sugar levels are too high. Type1 diabetes is often categorised by the body’s inability to produce insulin and is often associated with adolescents and usually developed during teenager years. A serious condition, if left untreated, type 1 diabetes can lead to health complications which include heart disease, risk of stroke, kidney disease, retinopathy and neuropathy.


This is not the first time that the relationship between teenagers and video games has provoked controversy. Numerous study’s have linked the excessive time spent on game consoles by teenagers to a number of issues such as: poor school performance, an increase in violent and aggressive behaviour (depending on the video game) and potential health risks that include severe dehydration, blood clots or deep vein thrombosis [Yahoo.News].

So is the demonisation of video games slightly exaggerated? Shocking news stories involving the death of two young boys as a result of video games may suggest otherwise. Last year an 18 year old collapsed and died in an Internet café in Taiwan after playing an online computer game for 40 straight hours. Likewise a young man from the UK died after playing his Xbox for 12 consecutive hours and no rest in between. Both incidents show the various dangers that are linked to playing game consoles.


I have to question whether reports such as this, simply just showcase a negative stereotype that has been orchestrated by the mainstream media, who often seem intent on criticising the younger generation and any craze they are associated with?

Although, the study’s findings show a link between sleep and diabetes, it fails to make clear whether the risk of diabetes was linked to just a lack of sleep or whether sleep deprivation had any connection with video games specifically.

It also fails to acknowledge whether other factors such as constantly watching television at night, excessive studying or suffering from a sleep disorder such as insomnia, could possibly be potential catalysts for poor sleeping habits. Rather it chooses to vilify video games in particular, without acknowledging any other probable causes that could be linked with poor sleep and in turn high insulin resistance. In my opinion these limitations make this study somewhat flawed.

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