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A new study has found that playing active video games is a great way to help overweight children stay active and lose weight.
For the study, published in the scientific journal JAMA Pediatrics, active video gaming was incorporated into a 16-week pediatric obesity intervention program and featured children ages 8 through 12. Participants enrolled in JOIN for ME, a family-based pediatric weight-management program created by UnitedHealth Group, based out of Minnetonka, Minnestota.
Half of participants were given Xbox 360 consoles with Kinect from Microsoft Corp. while the other half completed the physical activity program "as usual." Researchers provided both study groups with instructions regarding physical activity, and participants who received the Xbox 360 consoles with Kinect did not receive any additional instructions concerning game use or how long to play.
Children who used the gaming system increased their daily moderate-to-vigorous activity by 7.5 minutes, with one-third of that time focused on vigorous play. While both study groups lost weight, participants who used the active gaming consoles had a much greater (more than 100 percent) reduction in "relative weight and Body Mass Index (BMI) percentile."
This more than doubles the impact of the weight management program and shows utilizing active video gaming in a pediatric weight-management program yields positive results.
"Considering that study participants were given no instructions related to gameplay suggests that if they were given specific goals for active gaming, the results could be even more impressive," said Stewart Trost, Ph.D., Center for Research on Exercise, Physical Activity and Health at the University of Queensland and lead author of the JAMA Pediatrics article.
Previous studies on active video gaming as a way of promoting physical activity among children were also positive. This includes studies published in 2010 and 2012.
Several other studies have indicated that active video games can be a good way for kids to keep fit. A study published last May showed that high-intensity games elicited an energy expenditure equivalent to moderate-intensity exercise, while a study published last October found that exercise games play a beneficial role in getting teens fit -- especially self-conscious teens who struggle with their weight.