Friday, February 02, 2007

Video Games Peel the Pounds

Finally, a realistic approach to dealing with the obesity epidemic in America: video games.
(West Virginia), which plans to put the popular dancing video game in every one of its public schools, said on Wednesday research suggested that it helped put a halt to weight gain.

Preliminary results from a 24-week study of 50 overweight or obese children, aged 7 to 12, showed that those who played the game at home for at least 30 minutes five days per week maintained their weight and saw a reduction in some risk factors for heart disease and diabetes.
Konami's "Dance Dance Revolution" is one such game where kids hop on an electronic mat and try to mimick moves displayed faster and faster on the video screen. It can be alone or socially with friends. It's a lot like electronic jump rope, but requires an amazing amount of stamina and coordination.

And then there is the Wii from Nintendo, with its amazing controller that moves objects on the video screen in relation to the controller's movements. My daughter played their boxing game and had to give up in exhausion after ducking jabs from the animated opponent. Aside from the occassional flying controller that has lead to this funny video parody, these games are incredibly addictive (and fun) to play.

But West Virginia's program was not just about video games - dietary education supplemented their program as well. But the dietary education likely would have fallen on deaf ears had the video games not been used. Meeting kids on their turf and facilitating the improved sense of self by letting kids rediscover their "exercise self" in a fun, age-appropriate way certainly contributed to the success of this program.

Now the message needn't stop with kids. Imagine if employers had these installed in their workplace dining rooms across corporate America - it would be better than attending a Karaoke bar, wouldn't it? All those big folks bopping about, and all.

Now, if I could just get one installed in our lab between cases...


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