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Research says kids eat less after playing Angry Birds

Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

From Doritos and Mountain Dew to Hot Pockets and "Gamer Grub," the video gaming lifestyle is heavily stereotyped as having a poor diet and eating habits. Well, once again we have the proverbial "new research suggesting" that some games might in fact be good for eating habits.

That's the finding of Nick Bellissimo, a professor of nutrition at Ryerson University in Toronto. The study he conducted showed that boys consumed 50 fewer calories at mealtime, following a game of Angry Birds, than they did at a meal that wasn't preceded by gaming.

And yes, they were served desirable food — "a pizza lunch," according to the study, and allowed to eat until "comfortably full." The participants moods were also measured before and after the meal.

"This finding is the first time anyone has shown that playing video games contributes to lower energy intake at the next meal," said Bellissimo. He said that his research should cause a re-examination of the effect of "screen time" on children's eating behavior.

The study involved a group of boys between the ages of 9 and 14; it's probably important to note they already had a healthy body weight. The game in question always is important to gamers who read this stuff, and in this case it was Angry Birds. One half of the study group played the game for 30 minutes, the other sat quietly.

As for the mood-measuring, Bellissimo's study notes that those who arrived happier and more excited also tended to eat less after playing video games. His conclusion: "If you're in a good mood and/or playing a video game, that seemed to keep kids from overeating at the next meal."

Bellissimo's research is part of a larger study on the effects of screen time, an ongoing parenting concern, on children's appetites. Future experiments will involve "more animated games that may elicit a wider spectrum of emotions," to see if they have a different effect on appetite.

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