Obesity Study: Exergames Can Help Youth with Weight Loss

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First Study Shows Overweight and Obese Youth Can Lose Weight From

Active Videogames, or Exergames

A Study of African-American Adolescents Shows Weight Loss and Improved Psychosocial Outcomes

 

SILVER SPRING, MD – While most parents have to compete with the videogame console to ensure their kids get enough exercise, new, groundbreaking research published in the scientific journal, Obesity, makes an argument for a certain kind of video game: active videogames, also known as exergames. These games are a form of exercise and rely on technology to track the body’s movement and reaction.

“Faced with a pediatric obesity crisis, our nation urgently needs sustainable physical activities that promote healthy weight in youth,” said study author Amanda Staiano, PhD, of Pennington Biomedical Research Center (Baton Rouge, La.). “In the past, light-to-moderate energy expenditure has been documented during exergame play; however, this is the first study to demonstrate weight loss among teenagers as a result.”

The goal of the study, “Adolescent Exergame Play for Weight Loss and Psychosocial Improvement: A Controlled Physical Activity Intervention,” was to identify effective ways to encourage adolescents to be more physically active through videogames. Researchers, including Sandra Calvert, PhD, and Anisha Abraham, MD, of Georgetown University (Washington, D.C.), in addition to Staiano, found that, not only do exergames support weight loss for this population, but that when adolescents work together as a team, they are more effective in using this technological tool to lose weight.

The study was conducted on 54 overweight and obese African-American adolescents age 15-19 and showed improvements in weight loss and psychosocial outcomes over a 20-week time period. Researchers encouraged participants to play the EA Sports Active game for Nintendo Wii for 30-60 minutes per school day in a lunch-time or afterschool program. The exergame participants, who worked with a peer to earn points, lost significantly more weight than the control group -- over five pounds more. They also showed improvements in self-efficacy and peer support.

“It’s no secret that many teens in the U.S. are affected by obesity and face the challenges that often come with the disease, such as high blood pressure, prediabetes and poor self-esteem.” said Harvey Grill, PhD, President of The Obesity Society. “During the past 30 years, adolescent obesity has more than tripled. Parents, policymakers, healthcare professionals and educators alike are looking for new, exciting ways to engage our youth in healthier habits, including exercise. It’s great to see that exergame play can be an effective method to help adolescents lose weight.”

To read the study in full visit: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/oby.20282/abstract.

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About The Obesity Society (TOS)

TOS is the leading scientific society dedicated to the study of obesity. TOS is committed to encouraging research on the causes, treatment, and prevention of obesity as well as to keeping the scientific community and public informed of new advances in the field. For more information please visit: www.obesity.org.

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