Exergames for weight-loss in teens

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Earlier this month, we published a Dispatch item on the possibility of using cellphones to combat childhood obesity. Now, a new study published in the journal Obesity suggests that active games exergames which are a form of exercise and use technology to track body movement may play a role in weight loss in overweight and obese teenagers as well.

The study involved 54 overweight and obese African-American teenagers ages 15-19 and was conducted over a 20 week period. Participants were encouraged to play exergames, specifically the EA Sports Active game for Nintendo Wii for 30 to 60 minutes per day. Participants could also choose to work with their peers to earn points. Researchers found that those individuals who worked with a peer demonstrated demonstrated significant weight loss as compared to the control group. They also found that these individuals showed increases in measures of self-efficacy and peer support.

Dr. Harvey Grill, president of The Obesity Society, says, It s no secret that many teens in the U.S. are affected by obesity and face the challenges that often come with the disease, such as high blood pressure, prediabetes and poor self-esteem. It s great to see that exergame play can be an effective method to help adolescents lose weight.

ACSH s Associate Director of Public Health Ariel Savransky agrees. Adolescents are no doubt immersed in technology on an almost constant basis. If we can figure out a way to channel this technology for weight loss in a medium appealing to adolescents, that s a great step. These kids will be more likely to engage in a behavior if it s something that they are going to enjoy doing and these exergames have the potential to make exercising a fun, interactive activity.