Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

E-games boost physical activity in children; Might be a weapon in the battle against obesity

Date:
January 9, 2013
Source:
George Washington University
Summary:
Video games have been blamed for contributing to the epidemic of childhood obesity in the United States. But a new study by researchers suggests that certain blood-pumping video games can boost energy expenditures among children who are at high risk for unhealthy weight gain.

Video games have been blamed for contributing to the epidemic of childhood obesity in the United States. But a new study by researchers at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services (SPHHS) suggests that certain blood-pumping video games can actually boost energy expenditures among inner city children, a group that is at high risk for unhealthy weight gain.

The study, "Can E-gaming be Useful for Achieving Recommended Levels of Moderate to Vigorous-Intensity Physical Activity in Inner-City Children," appeared January 9 in the online edition of the scientific journal Games for Health.

"A lot of people say screen time is a big factor in the rising tide of childhood obesity," says lead author Todd Miller, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Exercise Science at SPHHS. "But if a kid hates playing dodge ball but loves Dance Dance Revolution why not let him work up a sweat playing E-games?"

Studies on this topic in the past had suggested that video games that get users to dance or play a virtual game of soccer could increase energy expenditures and might help combat the growing health problem of childhood obesity, which now affects an estimated 17 percent of all U.S. children and teenagers. Several hundred schools in at least ten states, including West Virginia, have started turning to active video games in physical education (P.E.) classes. The hope is that such games can motivate inactive kids, especially those who don't like gym class, to get moving again.

But would e-games help kids attending urban public schools--places with lots of minority students at high risk for obesity? To find out, Miller and his colleagues recruited 104 kids in grades 3 through 8 from a public school in the District of Columbia. The researchers wanted to see how traditional P.E. activities would stack up against Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) and another active video game called Winds of Orbis: An Active Adventure (Orbis).

The kids in the study reported to their regularly scheduled physical education classes but then were randomly assigned to three 20 minute sessions of DDR, Orbis or the usual gym class. Kids playing DDR dance along to electronic music in ever-increasing and complicated patterns. Those using Orbis play the role of a virtual superhero that climbs, jumps, slides and has other sorts of active adventures. The testing was supervised by a researcher who measured each child's energy expenditures during the study sessions.

The researchers discovered that on average kids expended more energy when they participated in the P.E. activities. But the team also found that for children in grades 3 through 5 the active video games also spurred them to move enough to meet the recommended intensity criteria for vigorous activity. That finding suggests that E-gaming might be a useful alternative to traditional physical education -- at least for younger school children, Miller said.

The study of active gaming is the first to focus on African Americans and other minority children, who are at high risk of obesity, he said.

Many of these children live in neighborhoods without safe places to play or ride a bike after school," Miller said. "If E-games can get them to move in school then maybe they'll play at home too and that change could boost their physical activity to a healthier level."

The story gets more complicated for older kids and teens: This study found that active video games weren't enough to entice middle school kids to move vigorously enough to meet guidelines. Only the teenage boys played hard enough to meet the intensity requirements for fitness and only then in physical education class, Miller said. This study, just like other research, shows teenage girls are barely moving -- whether they are in a physical education class or playing an active E game, he added.

That finding fits with other research showing an age-related decline in physical activity, he says. It is alarming because if kids, and especially girls, stop playing team sports or moving much during the teenage years they can put on extra weight -- fast. Such weight gain predisposes kids to become obese adults and can put them at risk for a host of health conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, Miller said.

Miller's team also found that overall kids in the study, and especially girls, exerted significantly greater energy expenditure while playing Orbis compared to DDR. Orbis allows users to set the pace and thus might be easier for out-of-shape children than the fast and pre-set pace of DDR.

Additional studies must be done to determine if kids will play longer with games like Orbis and thus potentially gain more fitness benefits, says Miller, who is also a member of the Board of Directors of the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and a regular contributor to, and editorial board member, of the NSCA's journal.

The study was funded through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by George Washington University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Todd A. Miller, Alison Vaux-Bjerke, Karen A. McDonnell, Loretta DiPietro. Can E-Gaming Be Useful for Achieving Recommended Levels of Moderate- to Vigorous-Intensity Physical Activity in Inner-City Children? Games for Health Journal, 2013; 130109065929007 DOI: 10.1089/g4h.2012.0058

Cite This Page:

George Washington University. "E-games boost physical activity in children; Might be a weapon in the battle against obesity." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 January 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130109105710.htm>.
George Washington University. (2013, January 9). E-games boost physical activity in children; Might be a weapon in the battle against obesity. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130109105710.htm
George Washington University. "E-games boost physical activity in children; Might be a weapon in the battle against obesity." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130109105710.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Computers & Math News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Monkeys Are Better At Math Than We Thought, Study Shows

Monkeys Are Better At Math Than We Thought, Study Shows

Newsy (Apr. 23, 2014) A Harvard University study suggests monkeys can use symbols to perform basic math calculations. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
High Court to Hear Dispute of TV Over Internet

High Court to Hear Dispute of TV Over Internet

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) The future of Aereo, an online service that provides over-the-air TV channels, hinges on a battle with broadcasters that goes before the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Aereo Takes on Broadcast TV Titans in Supreme Court Today

Aereo Takes on Broadcast TV Titans in Supreme Court Today

TheStreet (Apr. 22, 2014) Aereo heads to the Supreme Court today to fight for its right to stream broadcast TV over the Internet -- against broadcasters who say the start-up infringes upon copyright law. TheStreet Deputy Managing Editor Leon Lazaroff explains the importance of the case in the TV industry and details what the outcome of it could mean for broadcasters and for cloud storage services -- as Aereo allows its subscribers to not just watch live TV shows but also store content to a DVR in the cloud. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lytro Introduces 'Illum,' A Professional Light-Field Camera

Lytro Introduces 'Illum,' A Professional Light-Field Camera

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) The light-field photography engineers at Lytro unveiled their next innovation: a professional DSLR-like camera called "Illum." Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins