Are All Gamers Fat?

by Sterling on June 12, 2009

There I was, playing D&D and stuffing my face with chips and soda pop. I stopped mid-bite and realized that my gaming night food consumption might be the reason my fortitude defense fails me one day down the road. I wondered if every gaming group consumed as many calories (or more) than my group. Sure there are the clichés about beer and pretzel games, or the oft heard “Where is the Mountain Dew?” references, but is this what other gamers eat? Beer, pretzels and Mountain Dew?

So I decided to use my group as a case study and I tallied up the food and beverage choices we made one week to get an idea about what we were eating, count up the calories just to see, and then average that out between the six of us.

I have to confess, this wasn’t a mission to get my group to eat healthier. By recording the calories we consumed I’m not trying to point the spotlight on our possibly unhealthy level of sodium intake or why none of the group has washboard abs. I just thought it would be an interesting look into our Sunday night routine.

One thing I will caution the reader about is the strong likelihood that we may have changed our dietary habits because the group was aware that I was monitoring their intake. Indeed the very act of observing behaviour can inevitably change our behaviour in some way. Of course I also picked a night we ordered pizza which we don’t normally do. Perhaps over time we will change our consumption, but I don’t expect that we’ll be eating veggies or other healthy snacks anytime soon.

Beverages

  • 10 cans of CocaCola Classic (355mL)
  • 5 cans of Coke Zero (355mL)
  • 2 bottles of Keith’s India Pale Ale (341mL)
  • 2 bottles of water (500mL)

Food

  • 1 bag Doritos Sweet Chili Heat (265g)
  • 1 bag Doritos BBQ (265g)
  • 2 Jamaican beef patties
  • 2 large pizzas (1 – Pepperoni, Bacon, Sausage; 1 – Pepperoni, Green, Pepper Ham)

This is the total count for everyone, not individual consumption.

Calories

  • 1 can CocaCola Classic – 160 calories
  • 1 bottle Keith’s Inda Pale Ale – 145 calories
  • Coke Zero – 0 calories
  • Water – 0 calories
  • Doritos – Sweet Chili Heat 250 calories/50g
  • Doritos – BBQ 260 calories/50g
  • Jamaican beef patty – 215 calories
  • Pizza – 308 calories/100g; each slice was 81g

Totals

  • 1600 calories of CocaCola Classic
  • 290 calories of Keith’s India Pale Ale
  • 1325 calories of Doritos Sweet Chili Heat
  • 1378 calories of Doritos BBQ
  • 430 calories of Jamaican beef patties
  • 5987 calories of pizza

11010 calories grand total for all six guys at the table.

1835 calories per gamer.

This number isn’t as bad as I originally thought it would be. Sure that’s a lot of calories, and sure 3 of 6 were drinking 0 calorie beverages, but with a mean daily requirement of 2,500 calories a day, we averaged 73.4% of the recommended daily intake. I would have thought that we were consuming above the recommended daily intake level.

So how typical was our experience? Do you think your gaming group consumes more or less calories on an average night? What do you eat during your game? Anything other than beer, pop, pizza, chips and pretzels? We want to know if we’re the same as gamers everywhere or if we’re six abnormal guys with hollow legs.

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 GeekBob June 12, 2009 at 9:44 am

Not much is eaten during our game nights per se. Typically people swing by some sort of fast food locale and pick up something for dinner, but nothing is really done after that. We use to have a regular soda supply but we lost that when we lost one of our group.
.-= GeekBob´s last blog ..Flametouched Mage (Draft 1) =-.

2 Tony Law June 12, 2009 at 10:24 am

We rarely snack at the table. Every now and then I’ll make cookies or something but, other than that, it’s mainly just dinner that is eaten. We game on Saturday afternoons and evenings, so we take a dinner break. We do drink soda’s and beer though, so we get calories there.
.-= Tony Law´s last blog ..Like RPG books rather than PDFs? =-.

3 da trux June 12, 2009 at 11:08 am

my gaming group is generally too poor to eat while playing. sometimes we’ll scrape together enough cash to get some pizza, but usually everyone eats before they show up, or bring something with them. whoever’s house we play at generally has the unspoken job of providing a beverage; be it pop or beer or both. none of us are overweight though. one guy goes to the gym several times a week, another is a former marine and takes care of himself, i’ve got a girl who is a nutritionist, so the core group is pretty decent. however, usually at least half the people who show up smoke cigarettes, which is both unhealthy and smelly. i don’t really mind it, but it is a health concern
.-= da trux´s last blog ..Huntington Park =-.

4 Steve V June 12, 2009 at 11:24 am

The host for our game has various kinds of soda out for people to drink, Smirnoff Ice, a few bags of popcorn usually get made, sometimes a bag of cookies get out on the table, and there is always the bag of Twizzlers that have to be opened when the first combat of the night starts.
If no one has the time to catch dinner before the game starts, we’ll order a pizza. If pizza is ordered, there are no other snacks, other than the Twizzlers. Someone usually brings at least a 6 pack of some beer. Our group meets every other week for 4~5 hours or so, so I don’t think it is too bad. Everyone in our group is thin and there are 4~5 players and myself.
On a typical game night, I’ll have a beer or a Smirnoff Ice, a soda, and then drink water. We’ll all pound through the pizza if it is ordered. Sure it is probably not good for us, but I think we’re pretty careful what we eat outside the game, so one night of over indulgence will not hurt once every other week.

5 MJ Harnish June 12, 2009 at 11:32 am

An interesting case study. More important than the total calories consumed (which were pretty high for a single evening), though is the type of food eaten: Everything consumed was made up of almost nothing but processed sugar, low-fiber starches, fat, sodium, artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. The vitamin content of what was consumed was almost zero. I think therein lies the problem for many gamers rather than sheer volume consumed.
.-= MJ Harnish´s last blog ..Vacation RPG Reading List =-.

6 Stuart June 12, 2009 at 11:49 am

I just realized we don’t have any heavier players in our group. Everyone is either average weight or on the thin side. People usually have some sort of drink at the table (water, pop, coffee, tea) and occasionally we’ll have popcorn or something.
.-= Stuart´s last blog ..Neoclassical Roleplaying Games =-.

7 ruined June 12, 2009 at 2:42 pm

I’m one of the heavier guys in my group, but really we don’t snack much during game. People will typically bring their dinner beforehand, usually fast food, but that’s no different than what they’d normally eat. Occasional beers or soft drinks are the norm. I will say, having the made the switch from standard sodas to diets (yes, Mtn Dew), I dropped about thirty pounds over a few months. Your mileage may vary.

8 Oz June 12, 2009 at 3:15 pm

My gaming group falls into the stereotype, and for most of us it isn’t improving as we age. For the most part (broad paint brush time), gamers aren’t the type interested in taking the time and expense to eat healthy self-prepared meals. For us, it’s quick and easy because our brains are more interested in getting input than minding a pan on a stove. Quick and easy means fast food.

There’s also the issue of portion control. Once I looked at some of the crap I eat, I looked at what calories I could save by not up-sizing my meal. It’s hard not to say something to my friends that tip the scale in the mid 300s and are shoveling food every time I see them, but there is no zealot as annoying as the coverted and hope they realize if I can lose 50 pounds so can they.
.-= Oz´s last blog ..DDO goes to freemium model =-.

9 MSA June 12, 2009 at 3:57 pm

Smirnoff Ice and Twizzlers?!? I think I just threw up in my mouth a bit…

So far, when we’ve had heavier players, they consistently bring heavier and more snacks. I haven’t played with anyone who appears to be heavy due to genetic disposition… or if they were, their diet was also a big part of the problem!

But even though my table has generally been around average weight (thin by southern standards!) our table diet has never been healthy. The snacks aren’t too bad… pretzels, crackers, and cheese are pretty typical. But we’re of the “Led Zeppelin” school of gamers, and we drink a lot of drink and smoke a lot of smoke at the table. So since the six of us polish off at least 24 full-calorie beers + whatever, its pretty rough on the system.

10 Feeroper June 12, 2009 at 4:29 pm

My group generally has a sort of pot luck of snacks, but with home made things. So while I dont know the calorie count, it is rather delishious! Last game we had spinach and cheese wraps, deviled eggs, fruit and veggies with dip and so forth.

Beverages however, totally consisted of soda.

11 Ameron June 12, 2009 at 6:47 pm

@everyone
Thanks for sharing your snacking habits with us. Typically our group plays Sunday nights from 7-11 p.m. Most of us have a big dinner before the game. As the host I always provide pop and at least 2-3 bags of chips. If the guys want beer (which I don’t drink) they bring it themselves. The week Sterling performed his calorie count was definitely not a typical night from a snacking point of view. But it did accentuate just how bad our snacking habits really are.

I wouldn’t say that any of our group is “fat” but we could all stand to loose a couple of pounds. Most of us exercise regularly and tend to only eat junk food on Sunday night during our D&D game. I think we all realize that we like junk and we’re not planning to change that any time soon. A few of us do drink diet pop and that certainly makes a big difference (for me anyway). I too saw drastic weight loss when I switched from CocaCola to Coke Zero. And I have to agree that the reason we tend to eat a lot of crappy food is that we’re lazy and it’s convenient.

12 Swordgleam June 12, 2009 at 7:53 pm

We’re all skinny, and if anyone eats during the game it’s the guy whose house we play at, making himself chicken or pasta for dinner. Sometimes we’ll have nuts or popcorn. Mostly we don’t drink anything, but if we do, it’s beer (for the drinkers) or water.

13 fluffylovin June 13, 2009 at 3:18 pm

i dont think my group and i consume as much calories in food as we do soda (mountain dew code red and voltage). its true that we did just start getting into D&D 2 weeks ago and we have really only held one game but when we did play our first dungeon it took 2 hours to play and we went threw two 12 packs of mountain dew with some extra dr pepper and coke thrown in then one bag of doritos. now this was between 4 people but since were all still quite young and active we really aren’t unhealthy, i guess hah

14 subsomatic June 15, 2009 at 12:31 pm

Being the only pregnant female in my group, I’ll leave myself out of the equation here… but I would say not one member of our group is overweight. We tend to order pizza and drink beer/water when we play but we sometimes BBQ and sometimes make popcorn but pop is pretty rare.
.-= subsomatic´s last blog ..Being A Healer and Loving It | DnD Corner =-.

15 Emma Tabrook June 23, 2009 at 7:40 pm

I try to make sure the food is left to the end of the Game session. The mess & trash can then be contained to a section of my flat with out interferring with my uni work. (located @ workstation)

Most of my gaming group are girls at the moment, and we are not fat, have partners, ride motorcycles (be it small ones ie CBR125R) go out dancing once every 3 months & eat healthy foods.

16 Ameron June 24, 2009 at 8:55 am

@everyone
I’m glad that people are still reading and commenting on this article. I’m also very happy to hear that a lot of the gamers out there do eat healthy snacks when they play. I think the social trend towards more healthy living in general is a huge factor.

I think the comments on this article truly help dispel the stereotype that all gamers are overweight guys living in their parent’s basement. Thanks again for everyone’s comments on this post.

17 borg343 December 7, 2009 at 12:30 am

I guess it sort of depends on the age group, I am 14 and I DM a group that consits of teenagers that range from 13-16, and we eat easily around-2000 calories each gaming session (each), which is about 2-4 hours each, and each one of us are very skinny. One of the kids is considered under-weight. But this might because we are all in puberty, so ya’know…

18 Ameron December 8, 2009 at 2:53 pm

@borg343
I remember the days when I was a teenager playing D&D all night long and eating the entire time. I never seemed to gain a pound. Maybe a better title for this article is “Are all gamers over 30 fat?”.

19 mark January 12, 2012 at 10:44 pm

I think , for the most part, the people who are trying to decide if they are ‘fat’ need to let someone else make that distinction.

I’m 43. When i was 8, there were no fat kids in my school. none. also no candy machines.
When i was 18, there were a few ‘fat’ people at school, but there were thousands of fat people at Gencon who obviously didn’t care that they were fat.
i work near a wendys, mcdonalds, tim hortons, burger king, and a&w. There’s a thai noodle shop nearby as well. the fattest customers are at a&w, they are also the oldest on average. Seniors and low income familes with three fat kids and two fat parents. large sized everything and diet coke as if it helps.

At a recent game day I was amongst the smallest and I have ten pounds to lose before my BMI is 23. The average gamer is over 300 pounds, man or woman, and nobody seems to care.

Why is it in a society where gamers are generally amongst the more intelligent percentages of people they are also the most obese group on average?

20 rtanen August 20, 2012 at 5:40 pm

At our gaming table last week, we had a bag of corn chips, a container of hummus, and water. In the past we have had potato chips and fruit. My BMI is ~26.

21 Joe August 12, 2013 at 9:49 am

Many in my gaming group struggle with weight. While I don’t particularly have a weight problem, I have other food-related health concerns to deal with, so we always try to be wary of what we consume. I’ve tried drinking just water at games or putting out veggie platters… with limited success. As soon as someone brings out a bag of sweets, or somebody orders a cake from their baker in the shape of a d20, or people decide that the banquet their characters attend should be accompanied by pie… it’s all out the window. Even if it is a gluten-free vegan pie, it’s still not necessarily healthy for the 6 of us sitting around a table inactive for 6 hours.

For a while I was a member of the same gym as several of my players, so we’d discuss game ideas while working out (which was great), and we all stayed fit while still talking about game. Most of us had played 2nd ed, so there were plenty of Bend Bars/Lift Gates comments while spotting someone trying to bench press a certain amount. We even tried an extra long period in the gym’s sauna to simulate what it was like for their characters on a mission in the Abyss. That didn’t work as universally as I wanted, since our female players couldn’t join us there (alas), but it got the impression across to the guys, at least. Obviously that’s not feasible for most gaming groups, though.

Our FLGS has started offering more dried fruit packets and nuts instead of candy & chips, though, which I guess is a decent start. In the end, the gaming table is no different than any other venue, you’ve got to pay attention to what you consume if you want to positively affect your health.

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