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E-games can be a valuable weapon in the fight against child obesity

The researchers from George Washington University has discovered that e-games can increase the amount of physical activity children participate in and ...

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|Jan 11|magazine7 min read

The researchers from George Washington University has discovered that e-games can increase the amount of physical activity children participate in and could potentially be a valuable weapon in the war against child obesity in the U.S.

The study also investigated the benefits rather than drawbacks of video games in relation to childhood obesity. Researchers also believe that some video games can increase energy expenditure for inner city kids.

Todd Miller, PhD, an associate professor at George SPHHS’ Department of Exercise said, “A lot of people say screen time is a big factor in the rising tide of childhood obesity.” He also said, “But if a kid hates playing dodge ball but loves Dance Dance Revolution, why not let him work up a sweat playing E-games?”

The past studies have also looked at the impact of video games, specifically those that require users to dance or play virtual sports games-on children in terms of increasing their energy expenditure.

The team of investigators noted that hundreds of school throughout the U.S., including campuses in West Virginia, has been utilizing video games in their physical education courses.

They hope that these kind of exercise may motivate children to be more physically active and even if they do not enjoy traditional sports. For this project, the researchers specifically looked at the effect of e-games on kids in urban public schools. They said this is the first study to look at the effect of active gaming on African Americans and other minority children in inner cities.

The scientists hired 104 participants who were students at a public school in the District of Columbia.

The researchers observed students, who ranged in age from third to eighth grade, and their response to traditional PE activities and video games such as Dance Dance Revolution and Winds of Orbis: An active Adventures (Orbis).

During the study, the children attended their regularly scheduled P.E. classes but were then also randomly given three 20-minutes sessions of either DDR, Orbis or another regular gym class. For those kids who participated in DDR, they were engaged in dance routines with complicated movements to an electronic dance beat.

For those who participated in Orbis, they were given the role of a virtual superhero and participated in active adventures where they had to climb, jump and slide around the room. A researcher attended the study session and measured the amount of energy that the children expended.

Based on the findings, the researchers found that, on average, the children used more energy when they were involved in P.E. activities. However, they also observed that students between grades three to five were more motivated by the e-games to continue their vigorous activity throughout the day.

However, for the older kids and teens, the team noted that the video games were not enough to inspire them to continue pursuing physical activity throughout the day.

The teenage girls barely engaged with the game or the activities in the P.E. class. Teenage boys, however, did play enough to meet the intensity requirements of recommended physical fitness for their age group.