Can the Kinect be the new treadmill helping kids to lose weight? Study says yes.

Playing videogames is often associated with gaining weight. But is this also the case when playing the WII or games on the Kinect in which you just have to move? Well, a new study indicates that physical video games like on those consoles could help kids lose weight.

The study appears as an online first paper in JAMA Pediatrics and is a 16-week randomized control study in which seventy-five children between 8 and 12 participated.

The lead researcher, University of Queensland Professor Stewart Trost, told the Brisbane Times the results surprised his team.

“Both groups saw a decline in relative weight and body mass index percentile,” he said. “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.”

Key Findings

  • Kids playing sports video games lost an average of 2 ½ times body mass index, compared to those who only followed a weight loss program.
  • 7.4 minutes: the amount of time students in the program participated in moderate to vigorous activity beyond those

Abstract of the research (free access):

Importance  Active video games may offer an effective strategy to increase physical activity in overweight and obese children. However, the specific effects of active gaming when delivered within the context of a pediatric weight management program are unknown.

Objective  To evaluate the effects of active video gaming on physical activity and weight loss in children participating in an evidence-based weight management program delivered in the community.

Design, Setting, and Participants  Group-randomized clinical trial conducted during a 16-week period in YMCAs and schools located in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Texas. Seventy-five overweight or obese children (41 girls [55%], 34 whites [45%], 20 Hispanics [27%], and 17 blacks [23%]) enrolled in a community-based pediatric weight management program. Mean (SD) age of the participants was 10.0 (1.7) years; body mass index (BMI) z score, 2.15 (0.40); and percentage overweight from the median BMI for age and sex, 64.3% (19.9%).

Interventions  All participants received a comprehensive family-based pediatric weight management program (JOIN for ME). Participants in the program and active gaming group received hardware consisting of a game console and motion capture device and 1 active game at their second treatment session and a second game in week 9 of the program. Participants in the program-only group were given the hardware and 2 games at the completion of the 16-week program.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Objectively measured daily moderate-to-vigorous and vigorous physical activity, percentage overweight, and BMI z score.

Results  Participants in the program and active gaming group exhibited significant increases in moderate-to-vigorous (mean [SD], 7.4 [2.7] min/d) and vigorous (2.8 [0.9] min/d) physical activity at week 16 (P < .05). In the program-only group, a decline or no change was observed in the moderate-to-vigorous (mean [SD] net difference, 8.0 [3.8] min/d; P = .04) and vigorous (3.1 [1.3] min/d; P = .02) physical activity. Participants in both groups exhibited significant reductions in percentage overweight and BMI z scores at week 16. However, the program and active gaming group exhibited significantly greater reductions in percentage overweight (mean [SD], −10.9% [1.6%] vs −5.5% [1.5%]; P = .02) and BMI z score (−0.25 [0.03] vs −0.11 [0.03]; P < .001).

Conclusions and Relevance  Incorporating active video gaming into an evidence-based pediatric weight management program has positive effects on physical activity and relative weight.

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