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article imageStudy finds that active video games don't improve kids' fitness

By Carol Finch     Feb 27, 2012 in Health
Results from a Baylor College of Medicine study, published in the Pediatrics journal, show that there may be fewer benefits to active video games than parents think.
The advent of video games that encouraged kids to get up off the couch and move around were seen by some as a useful supplement to actually getting them to take exercise. Having a child play a sports game on a Wii, for example, may not be as beneficial as being involved in a real game, but they were at least moving around.
A new study, however, tested out this theory by giving two control groups of 9-12 year old kids access to either active or inactive games for 12 weeks. According to the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the results show that games that make children move around actually give no "public health benefit".
The children who participated in this study wore devices (accelerometers) to measure their activity. The data provided showed that the kids playing active games got no more exercise than those playing inactive ones.
This surprised even the study's researchers. In a Reuters interview, the author of the report, Dr Tom Baranowski, said that
We expected that playing the video games would in fact lead to a substantial increase in physical activity in the children. Frankly we were shocked by the complete lack of difference.
This research goes against previous studies, although many of these were based on calorie burning rather than activity levels. For example, according to a WebMD report, published in March 2011, these so-called 'exergames' gave the same kind of benefits as treadmill walking.
Dr Baranowski does, however, go on to state that there may still be some benefits to active video games as they are likely to show some positive calorie burning effects compared to sedentary alternatives. They may not, however, be as good a substitute for actual exercise as parents may originally have thought.
More about Video games, Childrens health, Healthy kids, Wii
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