A new study disputes the claims that using exercise video games at home can change the sedentary lifestyles of children in any significant way. A study conducted by researchers at the Children’s Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas found that children overcompensated in "other areas" after playing active video games – basically making any calories burned a zero net gain.
The study selected children ages 9 – 12 who had a body mass index above the median and who did not already own a Wii. Each household was given a Wii, with half of them assigned to a group that could choose two of five available titles: Active Life: Extreme Challenge; EA Sports Active; Dance Dance Revolution; Wii Fit Plus; and Wii Sports. The other half of the group could choose games that did not require activity: Disney Sing It: Pop Hits and Madden NFL 10. All participants wore accelerometers periodically to measure physical activity over a 13-week period. Researchers did not give instructions on when to exercise or how much time should be spent playing any of the games.
The end result? Researchers found "no evidence that children receiving the active video games were more active in general, or at any time, than children receiving the inactive video games."
"While Nintendo does not make any health claims with active-play games like Wii Sports and Wii Fit Plus, we hope that the games encourage users to be more physically active,” a Nintendo Spokesperson told the NYT. "They are designed to get people up off the couch and to have fun."