Childhood obesity: video games an ally in child obesity fight

21 August 2009

Children who regularly play active video games such as Nintendo Wii may burn off comparable amounts of energy at the same rate as moderate-intensity treadmill walking.

US researchers measured the energy expenditure, heart rate, step rate and perceived exertion of 23 children (aged 10-13 years) while they watched television, undertook treadmill walking (at 5.7 km/h), or played 2 physically active video games (Pediatrics 2009; 124: 534-40).

They found energy expenditure increased 2- to 3-fold after walking or active gaming compared with that expended watching television.

Similarly high rates of energy expenditure and heart rate were observed after playing Wii Boxing, Dance Dance Revolution level 2 or walking 5.7 km/h.

The use of these games could become a valuable weapon in the battle against obesity, the authors concluded.

‘These new video games have the potential to attract children to become more physically active and could have particular value for extremely sedentary individuals or those who shun traditional exercise,’ they said. ‘With increasing numbers of overweight children, it is important to promote daily exercise in various forms.’

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