Active video games may offer an effective strategy to increase physical activity in overweight and obese children. However, the specific effects of active gaming when delivered within the context of a pediatric weight management program are unknown.
To evaluate the effects of active video gaming on physical activity and weight loss in children participating in an evidence-based weight management program delivered in the community.
Design, Setting, and Participants
Group-randomized clinical trial conducted during a 16-week period in YMCAs and schools located in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Texas. Seventy-five overweight or obese children (41 girls [55%], 34 whites [45%], 20 Hispanics [27%], and 17 blacks [23%]) enrolled in a community-based pediatric weight management program. Mean (SD) age of the participants was 10.0 (1.7) years; body mass index (BMI) z score, 2.15 (0.40); and percentage overweight from the median BMI for age and sex, 64.3% (19.9%).
All participants received a comprehensive family-based pediatric weight management program (JOIN for ME). Participants in the program and active gaming group received hardware consisting of a game console and motion capture device and 1 active game at their second treatment session and a second game in week 9 of the program. Participants in the program-only group were given the hardware and 2 games at the completion of the 16-week program.
Main Outcomes and Measures
Objectively measured daily moderate-to-vigorous and vigorous physical activity, percentage overweight, and BMI z score.
Participants in the program and active gaming group exhibited significant increases in moderate-to-vigorous (mean [SD], 7.4 [2.7] min/d) and vigorous (2.8 [0.9] min/d) physical activity at week 16 (P < .05). In the program-only group, a decline or no change was observed in the moderate-to-vigorous (mean [SD] net difference, 8.0 [3.8] min/d; P = .04) and vigorous (3.1 [1.3] min/d; P = .02) physical activity. Participants in both groups exhibited significant reductions in percentage overweight and BMI z scores at week 16. However, the program and active gaming group exhibited significantly greater reductions in percentage overweight (mean [SD], −10.9% [1.6%] vs −5.5% [1.5%]; P = .02) and BMI z score (−0.25 [0.03] vs −0.11 [0.03]; P < .001).
Conclusions and Relevance
Incorporating active video gaming into an evidence-based pediatric weight management program has positive effects on physical activity and relative weight.
clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT01757925