Baranowski said they expected that starting at week one there would be a substantial increase in physical activity in the group that played the active games, but not in the inactive game group. They expected another surge after the children chose their second new game midway through the study. No increase in physical activity occurred, though.
"By week six, we thought physical activity would taper off, and that in the seventh week, when they got to chose a new, second video game, that there might be an increase in activity. We expected the active video games would have a modest gain across these periods. But we found there was no difference in the level of the activity between the treatment and control groups. What we detected at baseline, before playing active video games, was exactly the same in weeks one, six, seven and 12," Baranowski said.
The authors theorize that the children either didn't chose to play their active games at the same intensity level that occurred in the previous lab studies, or perhaps the children compensated by being less active at other times during the day.
An outside expert said the study was interesting.
"You'd think that the kids who are playing these games would be burning more calories, but I think the nature of the games is not the same as going out and interacting. It doesn't directly encourage kids to go out and exercise," said Dr. Gary Small, a professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. He has studied and written about the impact of technology on children and adults.
"Wii Fit is not made to get kids to exercise, it's to sell games. Maybe they need to design the games differently, to really get kids to move more," Small
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