Physical inactivity among children is a serious public health problem. It has been suggested that high levels of screen time are contributory factors that encourage sedentary lifestyles in young people. As physical inactivity and obesity levels continue to rise in young people, it has been proposed that new-generation active computer- and video-console games (otherwise known as “exergaming”) may offer the opportunity to contribute to young people's energy expenditure during their free time. Although studies have produced some encouraging results regarding the energy costs involved in playing active video-console games, the energy costs of playing the authentic versions of activity-based video games are substantially larger, highlighting that active gaming is no substitute for real sports and activities. A small number of exergaming activities engage children in moderate-intensity activity, but most do not. Only 3 very small trials have considered the effects of exergaming on physical activity levels and/or other health outcomes in children. Evidence from these trials has been mixed; positive trends for improvements in some health outcomes in the intervention groups were noted in 2 trials. No adequately powered randomized, controlled trial has been published to date, and no trial has assessed the long-term impact of exergaming on children's health. We now need high-quality randomized, controlled trials to evaluate the effectiveness and sustainability of exergaming, as well as its clinical relevance; until such studies take place, we should remain cautious about its ability to positively affect children's health.
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Special Articles| August 01 2009
Can Exergaming Contribute to Improving Physical Activity Levels and Health Outcomes in Children?
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Amanda J. Daley; Can Exergaming Contribute to Improving Physical Activity Levels and Health Outcomes in Children?. Pediatrics August 2009; 124 (2): 763–771. 10.1542/peds.2008-2357
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