Thursday, May 03, 2007

Computer Games reduce obesity!

Paradox? Can video games be used to reduce weight?

Dance Revolution (Xbox, Playstaion and soon the Wii) uses a 3x3 tiled mat on which you danced to choreographed screen instructions. It’s an exhausting experience, and great fun. It’s also a big hit among young game players, both boys and girls. Try playing tennis, boxing or anything on the Wii – you’ll be dripping in aerobic induced sweat in minutes.

Games and obesity

Research from West Virginia University looked at the impact of such games on obesity. The initial clinical study was astounding. 50 children with a body mass index over the 85th percentile (threshold for obesity) showed better arterial response to increased blood flow, an increase in aerobic capacity, and no weight gain. In addition, all the participants were more willing to try new activities and invite friends over to play, and were more confident in participating in physical education classes. So far, so good.

DDR mandated in schools
So they upped the size of the trial across 20 schools. So successful was this trial that they have mandated the use of DDR across the school system, making it part of PE. Konami weighed in with a $75k grant.

FIT programme
Another scheme has seen the marvellous Guitar Hero (old rockers will LOVE this), Groove and a dance version of Tetris being used in 200 US schools. It’s called the generation FIT programme.

We’re only starting to see how this technology can be used in education, but who would have thought that preventing obesity would have been possible?