Games Don't Cause Rickets

In the latest bad science reporting saga, many media reports are saying that scientists have said that gaming causes rickets.  Just do a Google search for "games + rickets" to see some examples.  As soon as I see the headline: "X causes Y,say scientists", I reach for my bovex* filter.

During my childhood in the 1950s I never met anyone with rickets.  It was a scourge of Victorian england.  Its rise was due to a change of lifestyles in the industrial revolution: most children worked in factories or mines, rather than in the fields.  I have observed that people who spend most of their time indoors tend to wear more clothing out of doors.

Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones.  It is made naturally in the human skin.  Lack of sunlight on the skin can lead to vitamin D deficiency, one outcome of which is rickets - weak bones which grow distorted under load.

In the 1950s, society made every effort to encourage kids to play outside.  We had the UK's Playing Fields Association with its avowed aim of providing outdoor playgrounds for children.  Vitamin D was  supplemented with cod liver oil (yuk!), or cod liver oil and malt (yum!).

Cod, herrings, mackerel, sardines and jellied eels were UK working-class fodder.  The ubiquitous fish and chips was most usually cod and chips.  VAT had not been thought of.  Any politician suggesting a tax on these healthy foods would have been voted - nay, laughed - out of office.

Fast forward to the 21st century. 

A whole generation of kids has been taught that sunshine is bad for the skin - which it is in excess.  The modern urban lifestyle is mostly an indoor lifestyle, which compounds the problem.

An indoor lifestyle leads to lack of vitamin D.  An indoor lifestyle accustoms people to warmth: I have observed that people tend to wrap up well if the outdoor temperature is less than about 20oC.  Clothing blocks sunlight, hence it blocks vitamin D production.

Many of the foods commonly eaten in the 1950s are shunned by today's kids.  In the absence of natural sources of vitamin D, many people are not aware of the need to monitor its intake through supplements.

All of which factors contribute to the current widespread rise in rickets.

People with indoor lifestyles tend to play games, watch movies, surf the internet or read.

Games do not cause rickets.
Movies do not cause rickets.
Websites do not cause rickets.
Books do not cause rickets.

* bovex = BOVine Excrement = BS.

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