Friday, June 17, 2011

Active Gaming Alternatives Exhibit Healthy Potential

Lawson Researchers Examine Active Video Games for Childhood Obesity Prevention

17% of children ages 2-19 are affected by youth obesity. The rate has quadrupled since the 1980s. What’s more, the repercussions are frightening: hypertension, type II diabetes, fatty liver disease, and a host of other “adult” illnesses are now emerging in children.

With research suggesting that 83% of American youth have a t least one gaming console in their bedroom, many attribute these growing risks and growing waistlines to the popularity of screen-based activities.

However, I-THINK researchers at Lawson Hleath Research Institute are now suggesting video games may provide a strong platform to promote youth physical activity and nutrition.

With the emergence of games like Dance-Dance-Revolution and the Wii system, gaming entertainment has shifted towards more active alternatives, and the I-THINK team members believe this growing popularity may be leveraged to target obesity prevention and self-care.

To determine the healthy potential, researchers at I-THINK conducted a systematic literature review of active video games. Between 1998 and 2011, they identified a total of 34 studies across two categories: physically active video games, or “exergames,” and interactive video games that don’t necessarily include a physical activity component.

Although the metrics used in each study were different, the I-THINK team consistently noted that children playing active video games experienced a light to moderate increase in physical activity. Increases in exercise expenditure, heart rate, and step counts were also noted, as well as decreases in waist size, weight, and BMI. Pin It

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