A report released this week by the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine maintains that kids burn calories four times as fast when engaged in an active video game than a passive one.
According to Medical News Today:
...over 83% of children in the US between the ages of 8 and 18 have video game consoles in their bedrooms. The alarming increase in obesity rates that coincides with this trend may not be a coincidence, as seated video games may contribute to time spent sedentary rather than active.
While you might expect that the authors looked at the Nintendo Wii or perhaps multi-platform aerobic games like Dance Dance Revolution, the report focuses on the XaviX gaming system (see video), manufactured by Japan's SSD Company, Ltd. Among the XaviX's offering are simulations of bowling, fishing, tennis, and golf. The study authors comment:
In addition to the exercise gaming modalities, the XaviX system includes a gaming mat (XaviX J-Mat) that allows participants to travel the streets of Hong Kong at a walk or a run, avoiding obstacles and stamping out ninjas.
The study was performed at the University of Hong Kong's Institute of Human Performance. Kids who played games while seated burned 39% more calories per minute than when they were at rest. During an active bowling game they burned 98% more calories and during an action/running game they burned 451% more. Of this, the researchers said:
This translates into a more than four-fold increase in energy expenditure for the XaviX J-Mat game. Preventing weight gain requires an energy adjustment of approximately 150 kilocalories [calories] per day. The four-fold increase in energy expenditure when playing on the XaviX J-Mat would fill the proposed energy gap, if this game were played for 35 minutes a day...
Our data demonstrate that the two active gaming formats result in meaningful increases in energy expenditure compared with the seated screen environment. The next step is to test whether active gaming interventions can provide sustainable increases in childhood physical activity.