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posted: 3/20/2014 7:54 AM

How video games might actually help kids lose weight

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Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital

Barrington, IL - Kids these days are often living a more sedentary lifestyle which has contributed to increasing obesity. They seem to watch endless hours of television in their own rooms and playing video games until their fingers become numb. But children who play video games that have them moving around and up on their feet could actually help them lose weight, according to new research.

A recent study in JAMA Pediatrics found that kids who play active video games could lose unwanted pounds when coordinated with a weight management program.

The study looked at 75 overweight or obese children and found those assigned to active gaming plus family-based weight management increased their moderate-to-vigorous activity an average of 7.4 minutes per day and vigorous physical activity by nearly three minutes per day.

"The latest and greatest video games that require players to move their whole body are an appealing way to promote exercise among overweight and obese children," says Dr. John Beckerman a pediatrician at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, Ill.

The research found that the active game players lost about twice as much than those on a weight management program alone.

"It's great that these active video games get the family involved in physical activity together but my preference really is eventually to get kids outside," Beckerman said. "However with the winter we have had getting outside has been tough!"

Nearly one in three children in America is overweight or obese. Experts say that children ages 6 to 19 should get 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity most days, about two-thirds of children do not meet this recommendation, and one-quarter of adolescents do not achieve this level on any day.

"Our overall goal is to first get kids moving," explains Dr. Beckerman. "These active games gives obese kids another avenue of activity and can help obese kids get past the stigma they encounter trying to play team sports where they might not feel accepted or comfortable participating."