Study: (Active) Gaming, Diet Effective For Weight Loss

Read this carefully and avoid all wishful thinking: Scientists just determined that active gaming, along with a regimen of dieting, can help people lose weight.

The key word, of course, is “active,” referring to video-gaming in which the whole body and not just a hand controller is used to manipulate the game.

The study, just published in the Journal of the American Medical Association by researchers from the University of Queensland in Australia, the Center for Obesity Research and Education at Temple University and the United Health Center for Health Reform and Modernization in Minnesota, concluded that “incorporating active video gaming into an evidence-based pediatric weight management program has positive effects on physical activity and relative weight.”

To perform the study, 75 obese or overweight children were divided into two groups, both of which were enlisted in a weight-loss program. One group just completed the program, while the other were given a gaming console, motion-capture device and two active video games.

What resulted: Both groups experienced weight loss; however, the group with the active gaming lost twice as much weight as the other group.

According to Dr. Sara Lapp, a pediatrician with the Cleveland Clinic, active gaming could get children more averse to physical exertion into being physical more often: “If your child is in a weight management program and using an active gaming system, your child is more likely to get more active during that program. The active gaming system can help your child to get up and moving and get the heart rate up.”

Of course, Lappe says an over-reliance on the console shouldn’t be encouraged either: “If your child is using an active gaming system to move more, it can help to increase physical active, but really, the best thing is to get active, go outside and get away from the screen.”

Active video games, like their stationary cousins, vary widely in sophistication, game-play excitement, aesthetics and story development. Though each console system will have a different assortment of games with which to partake and every family will have a different set of favorites, there are a few widely accepted standouts in the genre. Check out The Active Times‘ round-up of some of the most respected active video games, from Dance Dance Revolution, the Kinect Sports Collection and Wii Fit U to The Biggest Loser, Kinect Adventures and Your Shape: Fitness Evolved.

If you can’t find something on that list to motivate you off the couch and into a gaming-related sweat, it’s therapy that you need.

[Image courtesy of Wii]