Mayo Clinic Shows Adding Activity to Video Games Fights Obesity

Jan 04, 2007, 00:00 ET from Mayo Clinic

    ROCHESTER, Minn., Jan. 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- If playing video
 games makes kids less active -- and contributes to obesity -- why not
 create more video games that require activity? That's the question prompted
 by a Mayo Clinic research study published in the current issue of the
 medical journal Pediatrics.
     "We know if kids play video games that require movement, they burn more
 energy than they would while sitting and playing traditional screen games.
 That's pretty obvious even without our data," says Lorraine
 Lanningham-Foster, Ph.D., Mayo obesity researcher and study leader. "The
 point is that children - - very focused on screen games -- can be made
 healthier if activity is a required part of the game."
     The study is the first to scientifically measure the energy spent
 playing video games. While the study's scope is small -- only 25 children
 -- it was conducted with great accuracy. Fifteen children were of normal
 weight for their height and frame; 10 were mildly obese. Both groups were
 tested while sitting and watching television, playing a traditional video
 game, playing two types of activity-required video games, and watching
 television while walking on a treadmill.
     The results showed that sitting while watching television and playing
 traditional video games expended the same amount of energy. When
 participants played with the first activity-oriented video game, one that
 uses a camera to virtually "place" them in the game where they catch balls
 and other objects, their energy expenditure tripled. The result was the
 same for the lean and mildly obese children. Walking on a treadmill while
 watching TV also tripled expenditure for the lean group, but showed a
 nearly fivefold increase for the mildly obese group. While using a dance
 video game, both groups burned the most calories, but it was considerably
 more for the obese group -- just over six times more than sitting still.
     Screen time (both TV and video games) now averages eight hours a day
 among children. The Mayo researchers suggest requiring activity in more
 video and computer games is one potential approach for reversing the
 obesity trend. Despite the small sample in this study, the researchers
 consider the findings robust and say that they warrant further studies in
 randomized trials.
     Other study authors include Teresa Jensen, M.D.; Randal Foster; Aoife
 Redmond, M.B.B.Ch.; Brian Walker; Dieter Heinz, M.D.; and James Levine,
 M.D., Ph.D. The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health
 and Mayo Clinic.
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SOURCE Mayo Clinic