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Active video gaming helps fight obesity

Active video gaming helps fight obesity
March 19, 2014

Playing active video games could help overweight and obese children lose weight, according to a new study from the University of Queensland (UQ).

Published in JAMA (The Journal of the American Medical Association) Pediatrics, the research included active video gaming in a 16-week paediatric obesity intervention program.

Professor Stewart Trost of the UQ Centre for Research on Exercise, Physical Activity and Health said the results revealed a significant increase in physical activity and a reduction in excess weight among overweight and obese children.

Active video games, such as Xbox Kinect, involve the player participating in movements such as running on the spot, jumping, or pretending to play sporting games such as tennis to reach game targets.

Professor Trost said the study showed that incorporating active gaming into a paediatric obesity treatment program could promote physical activity.

He explained "this could help address the childhood obesity epidemic that is taking a toll on children's health and the nation's resources.

"The results suggest that health professionals working with overweight or obese children should consider active video games as a way to increase physical activity and motivation for exercise.

"Parents concerned about their children being sedentary and playing too many video or computer games should also consider making active gaming an option for the entire family."

Researchers conducted a 16-week randomised clinical trial evaluating the effects of active video gaming as part of a community-based paediatric weight management program in YMCAs and schools.

75 overweight or obese children (average age 10 years) received a gaming console, a motion capture device and two active games during the program.

The other group completed the paediatric obesity intervention program as normal.

Professor Trost added "we measured daily moderate-to-vigorous and vigorous physical activity using an accelerometer-based motion sensor.

"We found children in the active gaming intervention had increased physical activity: moderate-to-vigorous activity increased an average of 7.4 minutes a day and vigorous physical activity increased 2.8 minutes a day at week 16.

"There was no change in physical activity among the children who participated only in the weight management program without active video games.

"Both groups saw a decline in relative weight and body mass index percentile, however the group that participated in active gaming observed twice the reduction in relative weight and body mass index scores than the non-gaming group.

"This suggests that the additional daily energy expenditure associated with active game play promoted a more favourable energy gap, leading to greater reductions in relative weight."

JAMA Pediatrics is a monthly peer-reviewed medical journal published by the American Medical Association.

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