Wii Fit Doesn't Actually Make Kids Fit

It's been close to 30 years since video games began their great leap from arcades to living rooms, and for all of those years parents and pediatricians have been counseling that kids spend too much time sitting on the sofa, controllers glued to their hands.

For a time, it seemed that fitness games and motion control could combine the best of both worlds, and have players -- especially kids -- immersed in a video game and getting some exercise at the same time. Alas, a new study finds, this compromise seems too good to be true.

Researchers in Houston devised a study to see if children who played more physical games got more activity during the day. The researchers gave Wii consoles to 78 kids who didn't already own them. Half of the kids were given "active" games, such as Wii Sports or a recent Dance Dance Revolution title, and the other half were given what we might think of as standard, inactive games like Super Mario Galaxy.

The kids were asked to wear accelerometers for 13 weeks, and the research team used the data from the accelerometers to determine how much physical activity each participant was getting. As Reuters describes:

Participants wore the devices on a belt during four different week-long periods throughout the study, which allowed the research team to determine when they were sedentary or lightly exercising and when they were engaged in moderate-to-vigorous exercise. Kids were generally good at complying with those instructions because if they did, they got to keep the Wii after the study was over.

Accelerometer logs showed that throughout the study period, kids with the active games didn't get any more exercise than those given inactive video games.

At weeks one, six, seven and 12, kids in the active game group got an average of 25 to 28 minutes of moderate or vigorous physical activity each day -- compared to between 26 and 29 minutes in the inactive video game group.

Researcher Tom Baranowski said that his team was surprised by their findings, telling Reuters, "Frankly we were shocked by the complete lack of difference."

The researchers conclude that active games could have a small cumulative cumulative effect on a player's health, weight, and activity level over the course of a year, but help more as a replacement for time spent on sedentary games than as a replacement for regular exercise.

Active video games don't mean kids exercise more [Reuters]


Comments

    Duh. It doesn't take kids long to work out you can play wii games with just a flick of the wrist holding the wiimote. Should have done it with kinect adventures.

    hahahah what a joke of a study. a sample size of 78 is hardly significant sample size. Im not saying that Wii fit guarantees fitness but saying definitively that Wii fit wont make kids fit from such and insignificant sample size is stupid. If they had 2000 kids or more then were talking about significant sample size but 78?

    Interesting but hardly conclusive

      if they hadned out 2000 Wiis with a game then thats what like a half a million dollar study.
      Pretty sure that much cash can be better spent elsewhere.

        just because they cant afford it doesnt make the small study size all of the sudden relevant. The point is his is a statistically insignificant study & you cant draw any conclusions from it. In other words this was a pointless exercise (pun intended)

    Well for one... Accelleraometers are worn on a belt. -_- '

    Wii control movement is mostly in the arms..
    Even with the wii fit games like the hoola hoop game (where ur waist moves all the time), you would need particularly sensitive accellerometers to even detect significant movement consistently.

    The placement of the accellerometers is totally fail if it's just worn on the waist. Go back to the drawing board or do a physical fitness trial. Beep Test anyone?

    Yea.. Wii Exercise *waggles arms around widely*

    Scientists *attach device to hip to detect walking*?

    Has anyone else noticed that Wii Fit actually isn't mentioned once in the study, anywhere? They are talking about the arm-wiggling games, not Wii Fit itself.

    It's like saying that Basketball doesn't make you fit, because conducted a tiny experiment in which we watched people play Chess, Checkers, and Starcraft, and the pedometers that they gave these people showed that they weren't moving much at all!

    Dance Dance Revolution not counted as physical exercise? Now I know that the study is complete and utter bull****. Dance Dance Revolution normally has me sweating and running out of breath at the half hour mark, playing on expert. So I doubt that the kids even played this game, if it truly was a part of the study

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