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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Video games might be regarded as an obsession for youngsters but in fact the average player is aged 35, often overweight, introverted and may be depressed, according to a U.S. study.
Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at the behavior of 552 adults aged between 19 to 90 from the Seattle-Tacoma area.
They found 249 of these, or around 45 percent, were video-game players, with men accounting for 56 percent of these.
The researchers found that the men who played video games weighed more and used the Internet more than other men.
Women who played video games reported greater levels of depression and poorer overall health than non-gamers with researcher James Weaver and his colleagues suggesting video gaming for adults may be a form of "digital self-medication."
They said women in particular may immerse themselves in brain-engaging digital environments as a means of self-distraction.
"In short, they literally 'take their minds off' their worries while playing a video game," the researchers said in a statement.
Adult video gamers also seemed less outgoing, or extroverted, and less social and assertive than non-gamers.
This was consistent with prior research in adolescent video game enthusiasts that tied video game playing to sedentary habits, weight issues and mental health concerns.
Adult video gamers of both sexes relied more on the Internet for social support than non-gamers, which supports prior research suggesting that adult video game players may "sacrifice real-world social activities to play video games."
The study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, concluded that there was "measurable" associations between playing video games and health risks.
"As hypothesized," the researchers reported, a higher body weight and a greater number of "poor mental health days" differentiated adult video gamers from non-gamers.
Reporting by Reuters Health, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith