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Saturday 16 December 2017

Why Wii games 'won't make our children fitter'

Dancing along with video game systems may not be helping children meet daily exercise requirements, according to a US study.

Researchers in Houston, Texas found that children who were given so-called active video games to play on a Nintendo Wii didn't end up logging any more moderate or vigorous physical activity than those given games they could play sitting on the couch.

Some public health researchers had hoped that active video games might be an alternative to outdoor play and sports for at least some of the physical activity children need, especially for those who live in unsafe neighbourhoods where playing outside isn't always an option.

"We expected that playing the video games would in fact lead to a substantial increase in physical activity in the children," said researcher Tom Baranowski. "Frankly, we were shocked by the complete lack of difference."

Half were given their choice of an active game, such as Wii Sports or Dance Dance Revolution-Hottest Party 3, and the other half their choice of inactive game, such as Disney Sing-It Pop Hits or Super Mario Galaxy.

Nintendo was not available for comment and other researchers said that while the games were no substitute for the real thing, they might be better than no exercise at all.

"Maybe the Wii isn't going to increase physical activity a whole heck of a lot," said Jacob Barkley, an exercise scientist from Kent State University in Ohio who didn't take part in the study. "But it might increase caloric expenditure a bit more than a traditional sedentary video game, and if you do that on a daily basis that could have a cumulative effect that might be beneficial."

jlast@herald.ie

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