With gambling now widely available online, problems associated with it appear to be expanding in unexpected ways, including waistlines. A Journal of Gambling Studies report suggests connections between the disease and physical health, including weight.
Researchers looked at data from the 2005 and 2010 Danish Health and Morbidity Survey, which canvassed 19,673 citizens. The participants were asked whether they had engaged in lies or bets in the previous year. The questions enabled researchers to identify problem gamblers and assess their health practices and problems. Behaviors that were examined include smoking, drinking, drug use, sedentary leisure activities and obesity, as measured by body mass index.
Gambling and unhealthy behaviors
Researchers determined that nearly 1% of the respondents were problem gamblers and that these respondents were much more likely to have engaged in unhealthy behaviors than those who were not problem gamblers. The results remained consistent even after controlling for various potential risk factors.
Compared with non-problem gamblers, problem gamblers were 2.7 times more likely to be heavy smokers, 2.2 percent more likely to be heavy drinkers, and twice as likely to be sedentary during leisure hours.
Factor variances in gambling study findings
The authors note that there are several factors that could limit the usefulness or validity of their findings. The study’s questions related to gambling did not differentiate between pathological and problem gambling. It’s possible, for example, that physical health is significantly impacted by the variation in levels of gambling engagement.
The findings provide information that suggests that problem gambling may be associated with other unhealthy behaviors. Problem gamblers may require a treatment strategy that incorporates screenings for other unhealthy behaviors.