Michael Kasumovic is a post doctoral researcher at the University of New South Wales. He has a problem with obesity epidemic and, in particular, the fact that so many young children are overweight. His solution to this problem? Let more kids play video games.
We need solutions now if we are to help the youngest generation—the ones most at risk. But it is essential that any solution uses already ingrained activities, and most importantly, that it reinforces positive behaviours while being simple and enjoyable. Hence the idea we should let kids play more videogames.
It's a well-meaning article, and I'm never one to disagree with folks writing positive things about video games, but it seems a little naive to me. Kasumovic's reasoning for believing that more video games will help reduce obesity is based on anecdotal evidence -- the fact that his four year old son worked up a bit of a sweat playing Fruit Ninja on Kinect.
This is all well and good and, having played a bit of Fruit Ninja Kinect, Michael is right -- playing Fruit Ninja Kinect could help, and video games can be a good way to keep active, but I can't help but feel that the real issue with the obesity epidemic is diet. Burning a tiny amount of energy playing Fruit Ninja on Kinect is unlikely to make any real impact unless you play for a couple of hours every day!
In fact exercise alone, no matter what that exercise is, will make little impact if it isn't accompanied by a change what you eat.
I do agree with Kasumovic, however, that perhaps a perception change with video games and healthy is important. As a kid my parents would literally kick me out of the house if it was sunny outside. Their view was that video games could not be part of a healthy lifestyle. Perhaps they can. But only a part. I don't think it's possible for video game exercise to be the solution for obesity. At best it can be a tiny part of a solution.
Still, worth reading the full article if you have the time.
A big kid did it and faded away: videogames vs childhood obesity [The Conversation]