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'Active' Video Games May Not Boost Kids' Fitness: Study
Date:2/27/2012

By Mary Brophy Marcus
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Feb. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Apparently there's no guarantee that your kids will mend their couch-potato ways if you give them a fitness video game.

A new study found no differences in physical activity over a three-month period between a group of children given "active" video games that simulated boxing and dancing, for example, and a group given "non-active" video games.

Fitness video games had been tested in laboratory settings, according to the study published online Feb. 27 in the journal Pediatrics, but it was unclear whether games ramped up physical activity at home, where kids can make their own choices about how much and how intensely they want to play.

"We were interested in seeing what the effect of getting a new video game had on the physical activity of children in the home setting, under naturalistic circumstances," said study author Dr. Tom Baranowski, a professor of pediatrics in the Children's Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

The scientists followed 78 children between the ages of 9 and 12, and gave each a new Wii video game console. None had owned one before. Half were invited to choose from a selection of five active fitness-focused games such as Wii Fit Plus, while the other half chose from inactive games, including Mario Kart Wii. The youngsters received needed accessories including balance boards, remote controllers and resistance bands.

Baranowski said letting the children chose their own games was important, and they were given an opportunity to select one at the start and then another new one after six weeks. "We wanted to be sure they were getting something they wanted and we weren't foisting one on them," he said.

To measure physical activity, each participant wore an accelerometer, an electronic device attached to a belt at the waist that tracks movement. The belt could be taken
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