Roundup: 'Gaming Disorder,' Obesity Rates and Keystone Virus

‘Gaming Disorder’ Proposed as New Disease by World Health Organization (WHO)

Whether it’s Fortnite, Candy Crush, Grand Theft Auto or one of the thousands of games available, the increasing number of both adults and children experiencing addiction-like symptoms from too much video gaming has prompted the World Health Organization (WHO) to add ‘gaming disorder” to its International Classification of Diseases (ICD).

The addition is one of several updates that will be presented at the World Health Assembly in May 2019 for adoption, and then go into effect Jan. 1, 2022.

“This release is an advance preview that will allow countries to plan how to use the new version, prepare translations and train health professionals all over the country,” the WHO said in a statement. Created in 1948, the ICD’s 50,000-plus codes are used in more than 100 countries around the world to classify diseases, injuries and causes of death.

While scientific bodies of evidence about the negative health consequences of too much video gaming are starting to emerge, the number of people becoming “addicted” is increasing, psychology experts say. The trend especially threatens mental health in children since neurotransmitter pathways in a still developing brain can be affected by the way video gaming spurs the production of dopamine, the brain chemical linked to addiction. Boys’ brains are more susceptible to these changes, scientists say.

Other research shows a person’s anxiety level is connected to how their brain developed as a child.

Not all health experts agree with classifying video gaming as a disorder. The American Academy of Psychiatrists and Society for Media Psychology and Technology, a division of the American Psychological Association (APA) say there is not yet enough scientific evidence to support diagnosing people with ‘gaming disorder.’

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Higher Rates of Obesity in U.S. Rural Counties, Says CDC

Adults and children who live in rural communities are more likely to be obese than those who live in metro areas, according to new U.S. government studies.

Nearly 40 percent of rural-residing men and almost half of women in these communities are now statistically obese, says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in its report released this week. Overall, rural men, women and children are more likely to be severely obese than their urban counterparts, the
CDC found.

Here are the CDC’s key findings:

  • Obesity prevalence was significantly higher among adults living in rural counties (34.2 percent) than among those living in metropolitan counties (28.7 percent).
  • The greatest differences in prevalence were in the South and Northeast regions.
  • The findings held true for adults in most socio-demographic categories, including age, sex, and household income.

Researchers looked at data on height and weight collected from 2001 to 2016 for adults 20 and older, and for young people ages 2 to 19.

The CDC suggest several obesity-prevention strategies for residents in rural areas. These include:

  • Increasing the availability of healthy food by working with schools and work sites;
  • Opening public buildings (such as school facilities) after hours for physical activity purposes;
  • Including bicycle paths, paved sidewalks, and outdoor public recreation facilities in community planning.

The CDC used 2010 U.S. Census data to develop an “Urban-Rural Classification Scheme for Counties” for the study, dividing population groups into metropolitan counties (urban) and nonmetropolitan counties (rural) based on size of population and other factors.

“Strategies to increase physical activity in rural areas should take into consideration geographic dispersion, transportation challenges, and limitations on community resources that might not be present in urban areas,” the CDC states.

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Mosquito-Borne Virus Called Keystone Diagnosed in Human for First Time, UF Researchers Say

With summer comes the need for Florida residents and visitors to protect themselves as much as possible from mosquitoes. Over the past few years, Florida has faced some outbreaks of concern, such as cases of the Zika virus. Now, University of Florida (UF) researchers have found a new mosquito-borne virus, and it’s called Keystone.

The first human case of a mosquito-borne virus discovered in the Tampa Bay area has been diagnosed in a teenage Florida boy, according to UF researchers. The virus is believed to be widespread throughout the southeast. The Keystone virus is named after the location in Hillsborough County where it was discovered.

It was first documented more than 50 years ago in animals along the Gulf and East coasts, from Texas to Chesapeake Bay, says Dr. Glenn Morris, director of UF’s Emerging Pathogens Institute.

Morris says a 16-year-old boy came into an urgent care clinic with a rash and fever symptoms in August 2016. The boy was diagnosed with Keystone virus after doctors initially tested him for Zika virus. Morris says the boy was taking part in a camp program when he was bitten by mosquitoes.

The boy full recovered, but researchers are trying to determine why he was the only one infected at camp. Many mosquito-borne viruses present similar symptoms, such as a rash and fever. Anyone who experiences such symptoms should see a doctor or seek emergency help if the symptoms are severe, experts say.

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