Tuesday, March 18, 2014 - 08:15
Professor Stewart Trost of the UQ Centre for Research on Exercise, Physical Activity and Health.
Professor Stewart Trost of the UQ Centre for Research on Exercise, Physical Activity and Health.

Playing active video games could help overweight and obese children lose weight, a University of Queensland study has found.

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.

“This could help address the childhood obesity epidemic that is taking a toll on children’s health and the nation’s resources,” he said.

“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.

Seventy-five 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.

“We measured daily moderate-to-vigorous and vigorous physical activity using an accelerometer-based motion sensor,” Professor Trost said.

“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.”

Full study findings are published in JAMA Pediatrics.


Media: Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences Media and Communications officer Kirsten O'Leary, 0412 307 594 k.oleary@uq.edu.au.