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Video games can aid child weightloss- study

Published: 5:56AM Tuesday May 31, 2011 Source: ONE News

After two years of research scientists have found that computer games can be good for children.

The study by the University of Auckland has been looking into how sustained use of games which have an active element, like dance mats or motion sensors, can be good for overweight children.

More than 300 children took part in study and results showed a positive effect on the body mass index of the active gamers aged between 10 and 14, compared to the control group of children who were not regularly playing the games.

Principal investigator Dr Ralph Maddison said the effects were small, but showed gaming could play a role in helping children stay active.

"The study findings show that this technology has the potential to be a useful addition to a raft of health interventions. It could have significant implications for how health professionals combat the obesity epidemic or develop rehabilitation programmes," he said.

Active games also had an impact on eating habits, with children consuming on average 400 kilojoules less in snacks per day.

"May be there is less opportunity to snack foods as you're playing."

The message for parents is to encourage the right sort of game.

"Parents may have more success encouraging the substitution of sedentary video games with more active ones rather than trying to stop children and young people from gaming altogether."

It is hoped the findings will pave the way for developing more active video games aimed at helping children control their weight.