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Effects of active video games on body composition: a randomized controlled trial.

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 94(1):156 (2011) PMID 21562081

Sedentary activities such as video gaming are independently associated with obesity. Active video games, in which players physically interact with images on screen, may help increase physical activity and improve body composition. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of active video games over a 6-mo period on weight, body composition, physical activity, and physical fitness. We conducted a 2-arm, parallel, randomized controlled trial in Auckland, New Zealand. A total of 322 overweight and obese children aged 10-14 y, who were current users of sedentary video games, were randomly assigned at a 1:1 ratio to receive either an active video game upgrade package (intervention, n = 160) or to have no change (control group, n = 162). The primary outcome was the change from baseline in body mass index (BMI; in kg/m(2)). Secondary outcomes were changes in percentage body fat, physical activity, cardiorespiratory fitness, video game play, and food snacking. At 24 wk, the treatment effect on BMI (-0.24; 95% CI: -0.44, -0.05; P = 0.02) favored the intervention group. The change (±SE) in BMI from baseline increased in the control group (0.34 ± 0.08) but remained the same in the intervention group (0.09 ± 0.08). There was also evidence of a reduction in body fat in the intervention group (-0.83%; 95% CI: -1.54%, -0.12%; P = 0.02). The change in daily time spent playing active video games at 24 wk increased (10.03 min; 95% CI: 6.26, 13.81 min; P < 0.0001) with the intervention accompanied by a reduction in the change in daily time spent playing nonactive video games (-9.39 min; 95% CI: -19.38, 0.59 min; P = 0.06). An active video game intervention has a small but definite effect on BMI and body composition in overweight and obese children. This trial was registered in the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry at http://www.anzctr.org.au/ as ACTRN12607000632493.

DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.110.009142